|King of the Mountains|
King of the Mountains — Zoetrope
•×• Zoetrope je "zařízení, které vytváří iluzi pohybu z rychlého sledu statických snímků". A tady se to děje docela dobře. Je to shon, nervózní beaty, drone efekty a částečně nesrozumitelné texty. Tento žánr může někdy přemoci nuda. Jsou tam však myšlenky, které tomu mají zabránit. Spisovatel, klávesista a producent Phil Kay cítil odcizení při partnerské spolupráci s Gary McClurem a následně se rozhodl ponořit hlouběji do elektronického světa: vytvořil tak svůj osobitý/sólový projekt, kde víří zvukové experimenty a široký pás elektronické avantgardy. Zoetrope stojí za projížďku. Kay dělá většinu ze své elektronické práce na zastaralém software, pomocí Windows Xpand, tedy stejném software, co měl před deseti lety. Zatímco jeho gear zůstává stejný, i když smysl pro putování měl Kay vždycky — připomíná, že způsob psaní je jiný, teď jen přestal pracovat na autopilota. Místo toho stanovuje fonetický kurz, který posílá sondy přímo do srdce našich smyslů.
Location: Manchester, London, UK
Album release: April 14, 2014
Record Label: ℗ 2014 Melodic
01 Undone 4:15
02 Surrounded 3:28
03 Shinkansen 1:57
04 Stranger Things Have Happened 4:58
05 Zebra Girls 3:45
06 Airstrip 2:43
07 Animal Attractions 2:08
08 EL A 3:42
09 Zoetrope 6:22
10 Gunshots 1:29
•×• The debut solo album from Phil Kay of Working For A Nuclear Free City. Available digitally, CD, heavyweight vinyl and as a deluxe package. Our deluxe package features CD/LP and a limited edition A2 art print, on 280gsm paper, each one hand singed and numbered by Phil Kay.
•×• If the scattershot ideas of Melodic Records’ schizophrenically brilliant Manchester experimentalists Working From A Nuclear City seemed to be aural metaphors for a galactic explosion, then King Of The Mountains, the new project of their songwriter, keyboardist and producer Phil Kay, hones in on a singular galaxy hurtling away from the blast’s initial impact into the cosmos. With his debut solo LP, the now-London-based artist detaches himself from his band’s tumult of sonic thoughts and sets a flight for more cohesive plains.
•×• Of course, King Of The Mountains being a product of the creatively restless Kay’s own fertile mind means that proceedings are rarely static; built largely around electronics but with its creator embellishing these artificial sounds with a variety of live instrumentation — even teaching himself saxophone in one afternoon to add extra layers. There are wonderfully interwoven structures, ranging from swelling tempestuous dance floor filler (‘Undone’) to richly textured maps of gently bustling sound (‘Stranger Things Have Happened’) and ambient secretions (‘Airstrips’).
•×• “The record was very nearly called Brutalism because I realised that what I was trying to do in music was similar to what brutalist architects were trying to do in the post-war period,” Kay explains. “There’s a similarity in using these really hard edged electronic materials to try and create something human and meaningful, and the way the brutalists used concrete and steel to do the same. I’m more influenced by architecture than any other art form other than music. When you see a building like [Barcelona basilica] Sagrada Familia you realise the sheer potential of the creative mind. It gives you something to aim for.”
•×• With that attitude, it’s no surprise that King Of The Mountains contains grandeur even among its more direct four-to-the-floor yearnings; tracks like the sprawling ‘Zoetrope’ are constantly looking for pathways out of their tightly-meshed digital fabric, while the likes of ‘Surrounded’ seek to stimulate the imagination, offering woozy half-light evocations. “A lot of what I do is just trying to create a place (existing or imaginary) that I’d like to be in,” says Kay. “Cities, nature, buildings… Sometimes it’s better to be in a city or a place in your head than actually be there.”
•×• For a decade, Kay was part of the aforementioned Working For A Nuclear Free City — who produced three critically-acclaimed albums between 2006 and 2011 and saw their music included in numerous TV series, films and adverts (from the very first cook up scene in Breaking Bad , to the classic 100 years of Hovis advert that spanned over two minutes). However he found his and co songwriter Gary McClure’s tunes were starting to drift further apart. “As a result, he released a very acoustic record last year, he really embraced that; my stuff’s been getting more electronic. One of the problems (and arguably one of the strengths) with Working For A Nuclear Free City was that it was very eclectic, which confused people. We wanted to see what would happen if we broke out the two key components of that sound instead of them battling each other.”
•×• It’s true that there isn’t much battling to be found here, with each track as though a different world, like moving through levels on an old arcade computer game. •×• What differs between this and WFANFC though is that there’s a thread holding them together — elements that recur and snaps of sound that come back to you. Kay does most of his electronic work on antiquated software, using Windows XPand the same software he has for the past decade, relishing in attempting to challenge their limitations.
•×• While his gear remains the same, though, Kay’s wandering mind is always in flux — epitomised in this brilliant debut solo effort. “I have a sign on my wall that says ‘Is there another way?’ to remind me to think before I make decisions when writing, just to stop myself from working on autopilot!” He says. Instead, he’s plotted an aural course that probes right into the heart of our senses.
by Chris Lockie, 31 March 2014, Score: 7/10
•×• King of the Mountains is the solo interest of Phil Kay, of Working For A Nuclear Free City fame. Zoetrope is an album of many genres — a jack of all trades, and even almost a master at a couple of them.
•×• The album starts rather suddenly, with 'Undone' seeming like it's halfway through when you first hit play. It's all hustle and bustle, with edgy beats, drone effects and partly-indecipherable lyrics. It brings to mind Amnesiac-era Radiohead, mixed with the more experimental side of Orbital. And, somehow, as the track builds it defies that terrible description and actually works.
•×• 'Surrounded' moves us into more ambient territory, though there are ideas seeping through cracks in the song that prevent the tedium which can sometimes overwhelm that genre. The two-minute 'Shinkansen' then twitches through the speakers like that mad bint in the movie 'The Ring', leaving you feeling similarly unsettled, yet impressed.
•×• A common fear when listening to the debut solo work of a band member is that they will throw every crackpot idea they've not been allowed to use with their bandmates at it, and it'll turn out a dog's breakfast, messy and unstructured. On Zoetrope, Kay does indeed depart from his band's normal template to veer around the genres, and the second half of the album does eventually start to lose focus, and your interest. But even in weaker efforts such as 'Animal Attractions' it's hard not to commend Kay's production skills, and easy to do so for the album's trance-like title track.
•×• A zoetrope is "a device that produces the illusion of motion from a rapid succession of static pictures", according to Wikipedia, which describes what's happening here pretty well. Not unlike Working For A Nuclear Free City, the King Of The Mountains project succeeds where imitators fail quite horribly, suggesting in Phil Kay we have a pretty hefty talent. The best place to file Zoetrope would probably be on the shelf marked 'albums worth a punt if you have a few bob spare'. (http://www.thefourohfive.com/)
BY SAM WILLIS, 11 APRIL 2014, 12:30 BST; SCORE: 8/10
•×• For a decade, Melodic Records-signed Manchester experimental stalwarts Working For A Nuclear Free City were in yielding fruition. The group produced three critically acclaimed albums between 2006 and 2011 and saw their music included in TV series, films and adverts — including the very first meth cook up scene in Breaking Bad and the classic “100 years of Hovis” advert (their sound is nothing if not versatile). However, writer, keyboardist and producer of the outfit, Phil Kay, became estranged from writing partner Gary McClure’s material and in turn decided to delve deeper into electronic wells, creating his solo project King of the Mountains and a record that explores swirling soundscapes, sonic experiments and a wide swath of the electronic avant-garde.
•×• With architecture offering swathes of inspiration for Kay, the aims for the tapestry of the tracks on Zoetrope become obvious; to transport the listener to binary landscapes of glitching colours and sharp, electronic terrains. The shape of the album is built largely around electronics, an oversubscribed force in the 21st centuty, but one which King Of The Mountain’s debut explores with thorough skill. Kay’s fertile mind exhibits a sound which is rarely stationary and one in which the electronics are smattered with live instrumentation, including a saxophone which was learnt — amazingly — in a single afternoon, and vocals. The structures of the album include dancefloor filling bangers and woven avant-garde musings; it has rich nuances which span all corners of the electronic spectrum.
•×• Beginning the innings, “Undone” initiates a stream of poetry in motion — swirling synth-scapes, a steady beat, smatterings of vocals and a sense of dimensionality encompass the opening track and, in a sense, the entire album; a thing glitching, popping and cracking with genius production.
•×• “Surrounded”, inhabiting some of the softer shades of the record, would sound at home behind the stark visuals of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and offers one of the many minimalistic turns taken by Kay throughout the LP.
•×• Within “Shirkansen” the opposite can be found — it’s an off kilter dance track, but one no less extravagant than his more experimental outings. Self-learnt puffs of sax, thickly layered between found sounds and samples, can be heard in “Stranger Things Have Happened” until the track melts into another of the album’s uniform sonic downturns. “Zebra Girls”, “Airstrip” and “Animal Attractions” offer similar, space age progressions until title track “Zoetrope” arrives with more glitch-infested danceability.
•×• Zoetrope manages to ably explore both shades of contemporary electronic music; the house-tinged, ecstasy laden cracks of one school and the strokey beard experimentations of the other. (http://www.thelineofbestfit.com/)
CHRIS BUCKLE; SCORE: ***
Kier Wiater Carnihan
•×• PHILIP KAY IS AN AWARD-WINNING, UK-BASED CONTEMPORARY COMPOSER. HIS WORK HAS BEEN FEATURED ON A NUMBER OF HIGH-PROFILE AND AWARD-WINNING PROJECTS, INCLUDING ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS FOR PUMA, COCA-COLA APPLE AND OTHERS; VIDEO GAME MUSIC FOR THE HIT PLAYSTATION 3 TITLE, 'INFAMOUS'; AND A NUMBER OF TELEVISION SHOWS INCLUDING BREAKING BAD AND CSI NY.
•×• KAY FOUND HIS WAY INTO COMPOSITION BY LESS THAN CONVENTIONAL MEANS. ESCHEWING A FORMAL MUSICAL EDUCATION, HE INSTEAD TAUGHT HIMSELF ALL ASPECTS OF TRADITIONAL MUSIC THEORY WHILST AT THE SAME TIME SATISFYING A BURGEONING PASSION FOR CUTTING-EDGE EXPERIMENTAL POP MUSIC.
•×• IN 2001 HE FORMED THE BAND WORKING FOR A NUCLEAR FREE CITY WHOSE DEBUT RECORD, BUSINESSMEN & GHOSTS, RECEIVED ECSTATIC RECEPTION ON IT'S RELEASE IN 2007, CULMINATING IN A NOMINATION FOR THE INTERNATIONAL EQUIVALENT OF THE MERCURY AWARD - THE CMJ SHORTLIST PRIZE.
•×• SINCE THEN HE HAS BEEN A SOUGHT-AFTER COMPOSER FOR PROJECTS WHICH REQUIRE A CAREFUL BALANCING ACT BETWEEN THE TRADITIONAL SCORING APPROACH AND THE MUSICAL IDIOMS OF THE 21ST CENTURY. HE RECENTLY WON THE COVETED MUSIC & SOUND AWARD FOR BEST COMMERCIAL COMPOSITION.
ON FILM SCORES...
•×• “I BECAME INTERESTED IN SCORING FILMS DIGGING THROUGH OBSCURE OLD RECORDS LOOKING FOR SAMPLES FOR THE HIP-HOP BEATS I WAS MAKING AS A KID. THE WORLD OF FILM SCORING OF THE 1960'S AND 70'S SOUNDTRACKS I WAS HEARING WERE A MILLIONS MILES FROM THE FORMULAIC APPROACH THAT HAS NOW BECOME LARGELY THE NORM.”
•×• “WHAT CAPTURED ME WAS THE DIVERSITY OF SOUNDS; A HARPSICHORD COUNTERPOINTING A SYNTH LINE; ELECTRIC GUITARS SCREAMING ABOVE A STRING ENSEMBLE; VIBRAPHONES SUPPORTING THE SCREECHING OF BOWED CYMBALS; THEY USED EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING TO CONVEY THE EMOTION THEY REQUIRED. COMPOSERS LIKE MORRICONE, LALO SHIFRIN, BERNARD HERMANN, ROY BUDD, DAVID SHIRE AND JOHN CARPENTER WERE AT THAT TIME TRULY PUSHING BOUNDARIES AS MUSICIANS AND ARTISTS.”
•×• “AND WHEN I FINALLY HEARD THE SCORES AGAINST THEIR PICTURES IT WAS A REVELATION. THE COLOR AND EMOTION THAT THIS DIVERSITY OF SOUND HELPED CREATE MADE IT MORE THAN JUST MUSIC, MORE THAN JUST FILM.
AND IT WAS SOMETHING I WANTED TO BE A PART OF.”
•×• “OF THE MODERN COMPOSERS WHOSE WORK I REALLY ADMIRE, ARTISTS LIKE JON BRION, MARK MOTHERSBAUGH, CLINT MANSELL, YANN TIERSEN AND MICHAEL ANDREWS COME TO MIND. THEY REPRESENT A SCHOOL OF FILM COMPOSING THAT, LIKE THEIR 1960'S AND 70'S PREDECESSORS, IS WILLING TO TAKE RISKS AND BE INNOVATIVE — VALUES WHICH I TOO ALWAYS STRIVE FOR WITH MY WORK. IN A BLAND WORLD OF SOUND-A-LIKES, IT'S ARTISTS LIKE THESE WHICH CONTINUALLY REMIND ME WHAT INITIALLY EXCITED ME ABOUT FILM MUSIC AND FILMS IN A BROADER SENSE. I HOPE TO CARRY ON THIS TRADITION TO HELP MAKE FILMS WHICH GO AGAINST THE GRAIN, BREAK CONVENTIONS, AND ULTIMATELY STAND THE TEST OF TIME.”
•×• IN PARTNERSHIP WITH WOODWORK MUSIC LTD.
|King of the Mountains|