Krakatoa - We Are The Rowboats

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Cuneiform Records
Catalog Number: Rune 168
Format: CD
Total Time: 46:08:00

They say you can't judge a book by its cover, and that is true to some extent. The same axiom extends to music. However, looking at the cover of Krakatoa's We Are The Rowboats, you might surmise that what awaits you behind the cover is something quite whimsical. Put the CD in your player, push play, and what dances its way out of your speakers is, in fact, quite whimsical. Krakatoa have a bright and upbeat outlook, all played with a contentedness that is infectious. Some of the actual track titles are much darker than the music would imply; ?Spiral Dive,? ?You Deflect Happiness? ?Space Conqueror? ?Numbskull?? just to name a few. I mean, "You Deflect Happiness" is quite cheerful, and, at times, tropical.

Krakatoa play in a breezy but edgy jazz-like style (as in ?Telegraph?, for example), with elements of electronic and atmospheric music thrown in. And at times, you'll hear a touch of surf, such as in ?Snoopy With Mohawk,? which is what would result if Devo were to cover a Beach Boys tune (I thought of "Catch A Wave," but that has to do with the opening lyrics -- the only place vocals appear). Well, eschewing synthetic digital effects and including shimmering guitar, deep, rumbling bass, crisp drumming and various percussive effects. Really the Devo thought came with the effects-treated vocals of multi-instrumentalist Ted Casterline. In fact, 3 fourths of the line up are multi-instrumentalists - this is, Ted, Glendon Jones and Valerie Opielsky -- the remaining forth being drummer Ely Levin. There are also a variety of guests helping to fill out the band's sound. Violins can be heard in abundance, as the instrument appears on half of the tracks, and sometimes more than one is played.

You can't pin Krakatoa down to any one style. They take themselves seriously without taking themselves seriously. In other words, serious as musicians, not quite so serious music. That isn't to say its all lighthearted fun and games, as there is the sober and elegeent ?Philadelcula,? and ?Rotor Blade,? for example. In all there are 16 tracks, most between 2 and 4 minutes long, and they throw in their arrangement of Aram Katchaturian's ?Sabre Dance,? giving back to the piece respectability that Conan O'Brien and his um.. recurring bear skit stripped away. If you don't know what I mean with that reference, don't feel you've missed anything - it's a lower than low moment for the irreverent late-night talk show host. Hopefully, you recognize ?Sabre Dance? from other sources. "Cat's Eye" reminded me of Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic, with its strident piano and bold rhythms.

There's quite a lot to like about Krakatoa, a like them a lot I do, my favourite tracks being "Spiral Dive," "Snoopy With Mohawk," "Covered Bridges," "Rotor Blade,"? well, quite a few of the tracks actually. Really great stuff, this.

Hot Water (1:08) / Spiral Dive (3:56) / Telegraph (5:03) / Snoopy With Mohawk (3:42) / Cat's Eye (3:55) / You Deflect Happiness (3:52) / Albatross To Betatron (3:14) / Naked Congress (1:28) / Sabre Dance (2:51) / Orange Whistle (2:01) / Philadelcula (3:50) / Covered Bridges (2:27) / Rotor Blade (3:44) / Accelerations (1:21) / Space Conqueror (4:32) / Numbskull (2:24)

Glendon Jones - guitar, acoustic and electric violins, electric mandolin, cuatro, string arrangements, and handclap
Ted Casterline - bass, guitar, vocals, loops, acoustic and electric guitars, baritone guitar, sample, percussion, guitar loop
Valerie Opielski - keyboards, guitar, electric shock, organ, piano, bass, percussion, sheet metal, clavinet, metal clang, string assemblage, clavinet, bugs, dogs, choppers, frogs, handclaps, and sounds cape
Ely Levin - drums, percussion, electric drums, and handclap

Guest Musicians:

Ben Freeman - electronics, juno, string arrangements, organ, Wurlitzer, birds, synthesizer
Chris Tignor - violin
Marlan Berry - cello
Helena Espvall Santoleri - cello
NYPD - siren
Dave Brown - string arrangements
Myla Goldberg - accordion, flute
Bradford Reed - noise synth
Rami El-Aasser - dumbek, riq

Plan Ahead (1999)
Togetherness (2002)
We Are The Rowboats (2003)

Genre: Fusion-Jazz Fusion

Origin US

Added: August 3rd 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 667
Language: english


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