King Creosote, Astronaut Meets Appleman, review: 'a brilliantly concise, pointedly potent collection'

Kenny 'King Creosote' Anderson's audacious musicality is masked by an understated charm and wit on his latest album

Andy Gill
Wednesday 31 August 2016 17:42
Comments

Download this: You Just Want; Faux Call; Love Life; Rules Of Engagement

Once a prodigious releaser of albums on CDR, vinyl and CD – some 50-odd at the last count – Kenny “King Creosote” Anderson has reined in his output since the acclaimed Diamond Mine and From Scotland With Love.

And it may be to his advantage: Astronaut Meets Appleman is a brilliantly concise, pointedly potent collection of songs whose apparent themes – the usual KC keenly-observed accounts of inter-personal relations and ramifications – hang suspended between the poles of digital and analogue, man and machine, heaven and earth, nature and technology, suggested by the curious title. That he manages to achieve this with such audacious musicality, masked by an understated charm and wit, makes it a singular, sui-generis delight.

Throughout, he creates an absorbing sound-bed from folk-rock grooves embellished with unexpected tones and textures: the sullen guitar thrumming of “You Just Want” is strengthened by rhythmic breathing, while eerily keening violins dance around the beat like dreamy dervishes; epiphanic bagpipes cement the cyclical guitar and organ of chugging recluse-rocker “Surface”, and cascading sparkles of harp illuminate the wan cello of “Faux Call” (a typical KC phonetic gag), a lilting waltz-time apologia crooned in his quavering tenor. “It’s the silence that somehow says it all, that I’m missing,” he laments, a man made more acutely aware of absence by the absence even of silence.

Elsewhere, the bumbling troubles, unspecified transgressions and mis-directed emotions that comprise these songs are usually handled with Anderson’s characteristic drollerie and “who, me?” disingenuity.

The emotional turbulence traversed in “Love Life” takes him from erotic fever (“All of my chemicals cry out with desire”) to barfly protestations of innocence (“Her jealous accusations know no bounds/Scarlett Johansson was never in my house”) with no drop in genial enthusiasm. The quirky spaceship romance of “Betelgeuse” ultimately results in disappointment so disarming that “my bipolar crash squeezed the arctic air out of my lungs”.

It’s not perfect, of course. I doubt if I’ll play “Peter Rabbit Tea” - his baby daughter chanting the title over a growing arrangement of strings and harp, in the manner of Gavin Bryar’s “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet” - very often, for instance. But as the concluding “Rules Of Engagement” drifts away on a misty bed of ambient noise, one’s left with a lingering, whiskery warmth increasingly rare in modern music.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in