I may as well leave it to Kenny Anderson aka King Creosote to annouce his new EP It Turned Out For The Best in his usual lengthy manner as any effort to shorten, paraphrase, re-write or offer some sensibility will just dilute the whole thing down to a tepid weak white tea…and we don’t want that…we want it rich, strong and flavoursome…Kenny?
And then there were three.
It is, of course, the magic number. And not just because of the Third Swan or Three Craws or Three Degrees or De La Soul. Not just because Kilrenny Church struck three for three o’clock; or because that song alone will tear apart your heart’s three walls.
Three is our number of primary colours, three is the primary odd prime number and there is no more beautiful music than that which is derived from the primes. The ear contains three arch canals; we see the world in three dimensions; earth is the third planet in our solar system and the Roman numeral III means GIANT STAR in the Yerkes spectral scheme – with which we are all no doubt closely acquainted – and hopefully you get my point. There are three musical notes in a triad, King Creosote is a three-chord wonder, and this is the third in a three-part series of revolutionary vinyl-only EPs.
So come in and get cosy. Here’s a red wine and coke. The fire’s on. We’re on a home run now.
On the Night of the Bonfire.
The (un)holy triumvirate of mermaids, cherries and astrophysics notwithstanding, King Creosote has three favourite things. They are geography, puzzles and marking time. Often, his songs embrace them all – take the backward-acronymic clues of ‘No Way She Exists’ from 2008’s They Flock Like Vulcans: a song which appraised the ladies and lay of our land, as guided by time and a cardinal compass. Did its True North point to the ‘Near Star, Pole Star’ that’s referenced on I Learned from the Gaels? (And this ballad too, of course, is a riddle, unravelled round HMS Ginafore’s ‘Ounces’) Rest assured KC will never squeal.
He marked time in decades on ‘Doubles Underneath’ and in knots on ‘Ankle Shackles’ and on this EP he does so via ceremonies – Leap Year’s Days and Bonfire Nights – with veiled intimations to birth, death and marriage on the side.
We don’t hear much rapping in the King Creosote canon, but there’s an ace stream-of-consciousness diatribe on this pyrotechnic choral-rock ode to bonfires, bad jokes and insolence. It’s huddled amidst some of the hottest math-rock shapes this side of the Firth of Forth. MC KC rules OK.
I Am Cellist
Even a nimble-fingered squeezebox lothario has his foibles. Our consummate accordionist concedes a rare bum note with a hushed expletive on this kaleidoscopic lament to inadequacy and erogenous zones. In one of his sauciest acts of wordplay yet, KC becomes so consumed by his lack of competence viz a thigh-bound organ that the words ‘jealous’ and ‘cellist’ become as one. If Kenny Anderson ever starts wielding a cello, we’ll know what he really means.
Somebody once said that Prince used falsetto as a ‘sexual mask’. Anderson, as we have just discovered, exploits orchestral instruments for his carnal analogies and reserves falsetto, on occasion, for the things that he does not want you to hear. So listen. Listen closer.
‘That might well be it, darling…’
The King Clone Creosote Bush continues to mesmerise all those who encounter it. Now almost twelve million years old, its worldwide admirers are drawn to its unkempt, mysterious charms and ring-fenced, bushy superstructure. In May 2012, a dude called Harold DeLisle PhD observed that ‘Large amounts of Creosote can result in liver damage.’
The fervent attendees of Homegame, Away Game, Hott Loggz, Haar Fest, Bunfight at the OK Karail and any number of other heavenly Fence Collective brouhahas will no doubt be nodding, red-eyed and limp-kidneyed at said doctor’s assertion. And perhaps there is no more quintessential Fence drinking song than Gummi Bako’s ‘Going Gone’, which has been covered and embellished by all the Fife beefcakes (PT, KC, MC Quake and more) and which traces The Fence Collective’s roots, through campfire broadcasts, Sticky Wickets and Picket Fences, back to FNC001, to 1998 (and earlier), to King Creosote’s debut, Queen of Brush County.
Gummi Bako reclaims centre-stage for this gorgeous re-vamped variation, as Anderson cheers his way back through these EPs, Fence’s history and his own past, and then propels everything forward again – pouring his heart out, crying his eyes out, shouting us down as the industry crumbles. We’re now in an age when a song costs less than a pint of milk, and an album costs less than a pint of lager: no wonder KC’s tears were preoccupied with such fluids when he composed these masterworks.
But this is the sound of a man having a ball. These three vinyl EPs constitute the liveliest, most upbeat record KC has made in years, and the latest in a brilliant line of endeavours designed to make us (re)connect with value of music; to treasure the physical format. Witness also his wonderful live-only Nth Bit of Strange album, whose title is echoed in ‘Ankle Shackles’, and if that song is in any way about being haunted by things we cannot touch, then it also says: we all need something to hold on to. Consider also Fence’s vinyl-only Chart Ruse series and KC’s super-rare Squeezebox sets. Sweet drumroll for those embittered big ideas.
* * *
There was a programme on telly the other night. It was about the Lighthouse Stevensons. There were three generations of them, fusing nature with science, juggling art with commerce, creating beacons on the Scottish coast and enlightening the East Neuk of Fife.
You can see the Isle of May lighthouse from King Creosote’s garden. Past the pot of Earl Grey, the plates on the walls, the outhouse full of gramophones; past the vegetable patch, and the washing line, and the dry-stane dyke, and there it is. Turning in to the shore, and out for the best, and in again, and out again. It reflects on the sea and the sky and the stars. Helps us fathom our bearings; navigate the rocks. It lights up the dark times and safeguards our hearts. We would be lost without it.
It Turned Out For The Best EP will be released by Domino on 3rd December 2012 and will be available on 12” vinyl (RUG493T) and digitally (RUG493D). The tracklisting is as follows:
On The Night of the Bonfire
I Am Cellist
Keeping it Strong!