Celesteville

Kohoutek

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    8
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Named after the comet that attracted much attention in the year of Anderson's birth, 1973, Kohoutek is a slightly fragmentary affair, but a rewarding one. Its release was long-delayed, having been planned and replanned over a couple of years. The liner notes hint at some of the reasons for the delay: oblique mentions of re-recordings and romantic relationships gone quite wrong. Those expecting something in the vein of Sentridoh's sloppy guitar soppiness, though, will be pleasantly surprised by the variety of musical approaches throughout, not to mention the sometimes lush arrangements created on Anderson's four-track machine. Real drums and drum machines, autoharp, keyboard drones and more can be found song for song, with subtle production touches bringing out slight echoes or oddly distanced performances (though there are a few flat-out rockers as well). Anderson's singing tends toward the soft, almost half-heard; his lyrics mix elliptical, amusing lines with more direct, sometimes quite blunt sentiments about ended relationships, dislocation, and general unease. The tone is conversational on the one hand and self-reflecting on the other, and often a little of both. Musically, conventional verse/chorus structures often get interspersed with free-form experiments, both loud and quiet. Sometimes it sounds like chaotic jamming just for the sake of it, but at certain points, a mix of randomness is underlaid with a straightforward melody, making for a nice balance. Hints of everything from Sandy Bull's acoustic guitar experiments to gamelan music emerge along the way. Standout songs include the fragile "White Shoulders," the engagingly chaotic swirl of "Council Bluffs," the minimal bass/drum machine-led "5 in 1," and a moody, kalimba-tinged cover of Godley and Creme's outre pop hit "Cry." His closing lyrics on the title song sum up the wry, wounded feeling of the album quite well: "The first thing to hit my infant eyes/Was a half-assed comet in an empty sky."

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