Monday, January 30, 2012
Diamond Mine by King Creosote
Diamond Mine by King Creosote
Diamond Mine features lyrics and vocals from King Creosote (Fence Collective member and Scottish music wellspring) with music by Jon Hopkins (composer, studio wizard and Eno collaborator). It's a true labor of love, recorded over several years, whenever Jon and KC could get together. The result is a suite of emotion ranging from cracked despair to patched-up euphoria. Described by King Creosote as a "soundtrack to a romanticized version of a life lived in a Scottish coastal village, the record weaves in slices of life, bike wheels, spring tides, tea cups and cafe chatter."
You may sense some frustration and impatience creeping in here but is it not time that all glad receivers of great music at last pay their dues and respect to "King Creosote' AKA Kenny Anderson? Having loved last years very polished "Side Show" by The Burns Unit consisting of nearly all the great luminaries of the East Nuek musical community in Scotland that is the Fence Collective, and Anderson's previous solo outing 2007's delightful pop epic "Bombshell" (check out "Nooks" and "Home in a sentence") it is becoming wearisome to keep stressing his talent. Yet he deserves to fill academies around the country and the Atlantic and also be lauded as a very special songwriter. This new album "Diamond Mine" has been seven years in gestation and sees our Scottish favourite teaming up with top keyboardist Jon Hopkin who has played with Brian Eno and that little know beat combo led by C. Martin and known as Coldplay. The album is described by Anderson as a "soundtrack to a romanticised version of a life lived in a Scottish coastal village", and what is fascinating is that the sounds and noise of this backdrop are threaded into the music. Thus the record opens with the lovely piano instrumental "First Watch" recorded over the backdrop of the voices of local people gently clanking of cups and plates in a church tea in a Fife village. It works perfectly as a sort of Scottish Thomas Newman style soundtrack and segues into the equally wonderful acoustic strumming of "John Taylors Month Away" where we encounter the plaintive vocal style of Anderson. It is infused with his gentle Fife accent that tells the tale of a conversation he had with a local fisherman in his tiny village home of Crail in the North East of Fife who Anderson admits "shattered every romantic notion I'd ever had of a life at sea". He did not shatter however Anderson's fine song craft and the song fades out over almost Radiohead style synths and euphoric voices. One would think all this beauty difficult to top but on the truly brilliant highlight "Bats in the attic" Anderson and Hopkin achieve this feat. It is ostensibly a song about the onset of middle age where Anderson regrets the "silver in my sideburns" and a "diet which is going to be the death of me". We find his heartbreaking tenor centre stage accompanied by lovely support from a female vocalist and Hopkins note perfect piano backdrop. As the song fades out with the repeated lines "its such a waste of all that we have" you feel the passing regret and genuine emotion. It is followed by the six minute plus of gentle melancholy set out in "Running on fumes" which demonstrates Anderson's way with words and fine acoustic picking guitar style.
The albums last three songs include "Bubble" which is infused with almost James Blake style effects and Hopkins comes into his own with lifting piano soundscapes which build to the songs crescendo. Penultimate song" Your own spell" is possibly closest to some of the balladry on "Bombshell" and contains an authentic Scottish feel to its glorious 3 minutes. Lastly the rather unsettling "With your young voice" repeats a refrain throughout and if truth be told is the one weak point on an otherwise glorious and concise album consisting of a suite of songs which screams out texture and depth. Music as an art form can often transfer the essence of place into sound more vividly than a picture or photo. No one who listens to "Diamond Mine" will fail to notice its inspiration or origins but more importantly you will come away enthralled by this luminous music. Well done Kenny and Jon, a true diamond.