King Creosote returns on September 2nd with his new record Astronaut Meets Appleman. It explores the tension and harmony between tradition and technology – between analogue and digital philosophies – and also invokes a feeling, King Creosote (otherwise known as Fife’s Kenny Anderson) says, of “being caught between heaven and earth”.
Astronaut Meets Appleman follows King Creosote’s breakthrough record From Scotland With Love (2014) and his Mercury-nominated collaboration with Jon Hopkins, Diamond Mine (2011). It arrives replete with a chamber-rock rabble and then some: harps and bagpipes come as standard, as does silence.
The first track to be shared is the album’s opener ‘You Just Want’. A seven-minute piece of hymnal drone-pop, its touchstones are the art of patience, scenes of mild bondage and Venus (in Furs).
Elsewhere on the record, ‘Melin Wynt’ is a lilting bagpipe-techno odyssey. KC explains “It’s an anti-wind turbine song, from a place called windmill. There are no windmills there.” This sense of place, disorientation and absence (in space, time, nature, hearts) underpins Astronaut Meets Appleman – most literally, perhaps, in the silence that unfolds amidst crestfallen lullaby ‘Rules of Engagement’. Or, as he intones on philharmonic lament ‘Faux Call’, “it’s the silence that somehow says it all”.
The KC idiom – equal parts geometry, self-deprecation, cosmic wonder and seafaring poetry – remains intact on the forthcoming album, as does his knack for a killer couplet (see drive-pop calypso ‘Love Life’: “Her jealous accusations know no bounds / Scarlett Johansson was never in my house”). But there is a renewed sense of space and letting the music breathe (lead, even) on the album – all the better to showcase a stunning ensemble cast that includes Catriona McKay (harp), Mairearad Green (bagpipes), Gordon Maclean (double bass), Hannah Fisher (violin, vocals), Sorren Maclean (guitar, vocals) and Pete Harvey (cello), alongside KC’s regular rock diviners, and his baby daughter Louie Wren (on ambient reverie, ‘Peter Rabbit Tea’).
“I wanted to push myself songwriting-wise, so I went in with hardly anything and had to wing it,” KC reveals. “I wanted to try and flip the clock all the way back to sound like a younger me – or a less cynical me. In the past, I’ve been fixated on twisting and wrenching every line, but here I’ve let that go a bit, and I hope that lets you concentrate more on the music; on what’s going on around it.”
“I always feel I’m reaching for something, but I never get there, I wanted to get out of the usual places” KC muses, and this is reflected in the album’s geography, which is more far-flung than usual. It was variously recorded at Analogue Catalogue in Ireland’s County Down, An Tobar on the Isle of Mull, and Glasgow’s Chem19 studios (HQ of long-time ally Paul Savage, who co-produced the LP with KC).
On Astronaut Meets Appleman, King Creosote is still upsetting apple-carts and dealing with the fallout, still appraising love and life, the moon, the stars; tide tables, bagpipe scores, zeros and ones; mathematics, ticking clocks and the beat of our hearts.
1. You Just Want
2. Melin Wynt
3. Wake Up To This
4. Faux Call
6. Love Life
7. Peter Rabbit Tea
9. Rules of Engagement
Astronaut Meets Appleman will be released as a one press only deluxe vinyl edition with exclusive etched 10”, alongside standard LP, CD and digital formats. Initial Domino Mart copies of the deluxe vinyl will come with a signed artwork print.
King Creosote live:
15th July – Hebridean Celtic Festival, Outer Hebrides
30th July – WOMAD Festival, Wiltshire
31st July – Cloudspotting Festival, Slaidburn
20th August – Upside Doon @ Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Ayr
25th August – The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh
7th September – Hoxton Hall, London Tickets on general sale 15th July
24th September – Tivoli Theatre, Aberdeen
21st October – Brye Theatre, St Andrews