Friday, January 15, 2016

Jesu / Sun Kil Moon

I love when odd things collide, like Disco era Kiss, New-Wave Alice Cooper, hair metal Celtic Frost and Ryan Adams covering Taylor Swift, so it should come as no surprise that I might be into Justin Broadrick of Godflesh fame being in collision with the slow core folk of Sun Kil Moon. The bi-polar sometimes highly emotive yet low mumbled  vocals of former Red House Painter's front man Mark Kozelek.  I can hear this album appealing more to Godflesh/Jesu fans perhaps more than Sun Kil Moon devotees. Broadrik lays down the back drop for Kozelek's narrative style that ranges from sometimes highly emotive rants to low key mumbled musings. If some of the backing vocals sounds familar that's because Isaac Brock and Wil Oldham contribute them. They are not the only guests as in the album's third act the members of Low contribute vocals to the previously released song 'Exodus" about the death of Nick Cave's son.

The album adheres to my philosophy that a great artist is going to be a great artist no matter what stage you put them upon. Meaning Mick Jagger is going to be Mick Jagger no matter if you put the Rolling Stones behind him or Burzum. Here both artists are both doing what they do best, with Kozelek adapting the most as his vocal lines tend to be spat out at somewhat more brisker pace than if left to his own devices. Broadrick indulges his more Pale Sketcher side with the electronics of "Last Night I Rocked the Room Like Elvis and Then Had Them Laughing Like Richard Pryor". It's in the final minutes of this song that Kozelek reads a letter from a fan from Singapore. The first song that is decidedly more in Mark's wheel house is "Fragile" which is an ode Yes bass player Chris Squire. It's a little cloudy as Broadrick's role in this song is.

On "Father's Day " the album returns to Broadrick's more electronic side as he lays down a backing track that might remind you of some of Nine Inch Nails more ambient moments. The guitar is coated in delay and trickles behind the programmed drums. For the bulk of the album the vocals are always way up front in the mix. The familiar down tuned guitar tone crunching into "Sally". The more rambling spoken word approach to the verse begins to feel a little redundant at this point and the chorus flows better as he actually sings. The more relaxed melody of "America's Most Wanted Mark Kozelek" find his running down the list of feeling and experiences he had over the last few days before stepping into the vocal booth. He also reads another fan letter on this song, which now must have become a thing for him. It's an ego booster and takes the pressure off having to constantly come up with snappy lyrics.

The album ends with the 14 minute "Beautiful You" which has an opaque ambiance that Kozelek lays more of a spoken word over it where he recalls wading into the ocean and having his balls frozen. Overall I think this is a success, I'm not sure that some of the longer songs where Marks is rambling about what ever he observed that day are going to make it onto the iPod and the album has more steam in it's first half, but I'll still round it up to a 9 as when it works it's strangely stellar.

the album can be streamed via the link below

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