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King Creosote, one of our most beloved voices, returns with his new record Astronaut Meets Appleman. It explores the tension and harmony between tradition and technology – between analogue and digital philosophies – and also invokes a feeling, King Creosote (otherwise known as Fife’s Kenny Anderson) says, of “being caught between heaven and earth”.
Album opener ‘You Just Want’ is a seven-minute piece of hymnal drone-pop, its touchstones are the art of patience, scenes of mild bondage and Venus (in Furs).
Elsewhere on the record, ‘Melin Wynt’ is a lilting bagpipe-techno odyssey. KC explains “It’s an anti-wind turbine song, from a place called windmill. There are no windmills there.” This sense of place, disorientation and absence (in space, time, nature, hearts) underpins Astronaut Meets Appleman – most literally, perhaps, in the silence that unfolds amidst crestfallen lullaby ‘Rules of Engagement’. Or, as he intones on philharmonic lament 'Faux Call', “it's the silence that somehow says it all”.
The KC idiom – equal parts geometry, self-deprecation, cosmic wonder and seafaring poetry – remains intact on the forthcoming album, as does his knack for a killer couplet (see drive-pop calypso ‘Love Life’: “Her jealous accusations know no bounds / Scarlett Johansson was never in my house”). But there is a renewed sense of space and letting the music breathe (lead, even) on the album – all the better to showcase a stunning ensemble cast that includes Catriona McKay (harp), Mairearad Green (bagpipes), Gordon Maclean (double bass), Hannah Fisher (violin, vocals), Sorren Maclean (guitar, vocals) and Pete Harvey (cello), alongside KC's regular rock diviners, and his baby daughter Louie Wren (on ambient reverie, 'Peter Rabbit Tea').
“I wanted to push myself songwriting-wise, so I went in with hardly anything and had to wing it,” KC reveals. “I wanted to try and flip the clock all the way back to sound like a younger me – or a less cynical me. In the past, I've been fixated on twisting and wrenching every line, but here I've let that go a bit, and I hope that lets you concentrate more on the music; on what’s going on around it.”
“I always feel I’m reaching for something, but I never get there, I wanted to get out of the usual places” KC muses, and this is reflected in the album's geography, which is more far-flung than usual. It was variously recorded at Analogue Catalogue in Ireland's County Down, An Tobar on the Isle of Mull, and Glasgow's Chem19 studios (HQ of long-time ally Paul Savage, who co-produced the LP with KC).
On Astronaut Meets Appleman, King Creosote is still upsetting apple-carts and dealing with the fallout, still appraising love and life, the moon, the stars; tide tables, bagpipe scores, zeros and ones; mathematics, ticking clocks and the beat of our hearts.
Barry says: All of these pieces feel like they could be the song at the end of a movie we all end up Googling (Other search engines are available) to see what it is. This is beautiful heartfelt indie at it's very best, every swell of a bagpipe bringing the dream of a lost love, while the pull of a violin pulls at the heartstrings in equal measure. This is an ambitious album, full of seguing atmospheres and unusual instrumental phrases, but is meticulously crafted throughout, and successful in every way.
Andy says: We're all big fans of the lovely Kenny (played in our shop once!) but I never would have thought he'd be releasing his best ever album, after all these years. The usual subtle blend of Scottish instrumentation is married to basically the catchiest set of tunes he has ever done. A lovely surprise and probably one of my albums of the year so far.
1. You Just Want
2. Melin Wynt
3. Wake Up To This
4. Faux Call
6. Love Life
7. Peter Rabbit Tea
9. Rules Of Engagement