Saturday, June 13, 2009

Kaki King - And all of a sudden, with no warning, I was overtaken (again)

I've been impressed by musicians and music often. As I described in my Del Castillo piece, give me depth, intensity, passion, texture. It happened with Pearl Jam and "Ten." It happened with Live. It happened with Oysterhead. (For more detail, see Chaotica.)

This time, it wasn't the abrupt, immediate, in-your-face overwhelming that happened with Del Castillo. Instead, it happened weeks after the introduction, sneaking up on me from the quiet reaches, slipping into my consciousness.

One moment, she was just another suggested musician who didn't really strike a chord with me, an appreciated thought that just wasn't a good fit.

And then, before I knew it, I was wanting to listen to her music almost all the time. Now I'll suggest Kaki King to anyone who I think appreciates good music and creativity, but especially music with a texture, a quirkiness and an inventive side.

A bit of background on the artist - Born Katherine Elizabeth King in Georgia, Kaki King eventually moved to New York to study at New York University. She developed her own style of playing guitar and has written a number of albums. Take a look at the wikipedia entry about her for more details.

The story for me relates to my friend Mike - a music critic - who recommended I listen to her album, "Dreaming of Revenge" after I shared some of my opinions about female musicians. (I've always appreciated the creativity and expression that many female musicians share through their music.) As I was thinking more along the lines of No Doubt, Hole, L7, Skunk Anansie - in other words, more hard rock/aggressive artists - at the time, my first listen made me think Mike was just misunderstood what I was talking about.

Turns out I was the one who was off. What I misunderstood was he was talking about the musicianship - and on that point, he was spot on. Because I was also talking about Ani DiFranco, Liz Phair, MeShell Ndengeochello, Tori Amos. But I didn't know that at the time.

My first listen, I heard the album all the way through, and with each song I was expecting something more aggressive. As it never came, I just set it aside, mentally.

But over the course of the next few weeks I found myself every once in a while wanting something more sedate, and every once of those whiles, I'd remember that I thought Dreaming of Revenge was in that genre, so I'd throw it on the playlist.

And then one day, I found myself wanting to listen to Kaki King's Bone Chaos in the Castle and I didn't have it readily available, and I REALLY wanted to listen to it. It perfectly met my mood at the time, and that caught my attention. Maybe I should give her a closer listen.

And when I did, I was shocked at what I had been overlooking.

In terms of style, pull up a You Tube of "Playing with Pink Noise" (video high quality), and you'll get a feel of what I'm talking about. I have yet to find an online version of Bone Chaos in the Castle that does justice to the album version - which you can hear on iTunes if you want to get a taste - but that also gives you a good sense of some of her more creative writing. It is at times a percussive style - almost as if you mixed Stuart Hamm and Stanley Jordan, with a very Ani DiFranco indifference to spice up the attitude.

She also does some amazing lyrical bits with songs like "Life Being What It Is" (the You Tube video by "A Shoot The Player Film" bit is a great look into her colorful, honest personality), "2 O'Clock," and "Saving Days in a Frozen Head." As a fan of Exile in Guyville, I appreciate her turns of phrase. Such as....

"Life being what it is - we all dream of revenge
Open your eyes for a second - just to roll them at me."
- Life Being What It Is

"Sunlight wakes me - just to say 'Let's go to sleep now'."
- Saving Days In A Frozen Head

"2 O'Clock - you're still sleeping.
When you wake up you'll be in such pain.
And I wait with the plate, piled high with my love, that you won't eat from.

"File off the sharpness of feelings so
I'll be protected from all of your evil.
When you come 'round my love, I'll be gone - finally done
Never to come to your rescue."
- 2 O'Clock

Kaki King also does some good work with layering pieces - looping line after line, musically, and sometimes putting vocals over it. Either way, it often has the texture and flavor that appeals to those looking for the little nuances.

Threads of some of her music reminds me of k.d. lang's Ingenue, others Ani DiFranco's Not a Pretty Girl. But all of it is unique, and wonderfully textured and detailed. The dynamics and intricacy that I look for in my music is all here.

A lot of this is available via You Tube and iTunes. So go forth, enjoy and share your feedback.

But bear this in mind - I shared this with a co-worker and he fell head of heels madly in love with her in less than an hour.

You have been warned.

For more on Kevin's takes on music, check out Chaotica.

1 comment:

Janice M. Harris, MA, MT-BC said...

Nice post. I like that style of music--where the intensity is subtle and kind of spreads into your awareness over time.