Kula Shaker’s Pilgrim’s Progress has been out for about two weeks now, and although I hadn’t set my expectations very high back then, I told you guys in April that I’d check it out anyway and let you know what I thought.
At first I sort of skipped through looking for something that struck me. What I was probably looking for was the classic Kula Shaker: over-earnest Hare Krishna mysticism mixed with hashed-out psychedelic pop (emphasis on the hashed-out). But with the exception of the eighth track, “Figure It Out,” I couldn’t really find it. And frankly, “Figure It Out” is not that striking.
But what you get instead with Pilgrim’s Progress, at least at its best moments, is a lot closer to sober folk. “Ophelia,” “All Dressed Up,” and “To Wait Til I Come” are actually pretty good. Like much of the album, each of those tracks, while still fanciful in ways that Crispian Mills can’t seem to resist, are plaintive little songs that would work really well in an all-acoustic setting.
Pilgrim’s Progress is uneven, but despite the lyrical goofiness of songs like “Peter Pan R.I.P.,” “Modern Blues,” and “Barbara Ella,” I’d say it’s worth a 40 minute investment of your time.
So give it a listen. If for no other reason, do it for Miss Bliss.
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (The Mars Volta/At the Drive-In) has gotten together with some of his Mars Volta guys and erstwhile Red Hot Chili Pepper John Frusciante to put together a 30-minute prog-rock odyssey and is offering it up as a free download for a good cause, Keeping Music in Schools. It’s called Sepulcros de Miel (Graves of Honey), and it sounds dark and delicious.
The eight sections of this extended jam are not well-defined, so this track cuts off rather abruptly, but if you’re grooving to it, check out the whole thing and toss a couple of bucks towards music education.
A lot of the “new” music that I come across is not new at all except to me. A suspicious car collision cut tragically short Omar Khorshid’s career in music and film a few months before I was ever born. Documented attempts on his life began shortly after he played a concert at Carter’s White House to celebrate the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty signed 31 years ago this past Friday.
I discovered his music when my brother recently passed along a tip about Sublime Frequencies, a self-described:
collective of explorers dedicated to acquiring and exposing obscure sights and sounds from modern and traditional urban and rural frontiers via film and video, field recordings, radio and short wave transmissions, international folk and pop music, sound anomalies, and other forms of human and natural expression not documented sufficiently through all channels of academic research, the modern recording industry, media, or corporate foundations.
I highly recommend that you check them out. So far they’ve put out 52 releases, the most recent being a retrospective of the music Khorshid was producing in Beirut around the time of the Lebanese civil war. “Takkasim Sanat Alfeyn (Music from the Year 2000)” originally appeared on Rhythms from the Orient (1974).
In spring of 2000, I saw Luna play a sparsely-attended, outdoor concert at Penn State, opening for Luscious Jackson, Mighty Mighty Boss Tones (I think?), Reel Big Fish, and various other inferior bands. The snowboard club had set up a bouncy tent to the left of the stage, and occasionally drunk West College hippies contorted into view. Billy threw grass at me. And I was entirely enthralled.
A creature of seasonal habits, ever since, when the first full-on day of spring hits, I throw open the windows, throw on a Luna record, and pretend that I’ve just turned twenty. Worked like a charm every single time. Enjoy the beautiful weather and the lazy, VU-flecked pop, East Coasters.