Perils From The Sea
There’s a brand new Sun Kil Moon out (and, hey, more on that soon) but in falling in love with that new record I realised I had forgotten to write about this album, because this collaboration between Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek and The Album Leaf’s Jimmy Lavalle is probably the reason for me even giving the new Sun Kil album a shot. You see I was done with Kozelek for a while there. He releases a lot of quality material but I had just lost my way due to the sheer quantity. I had forgotten to check in with him. The reason I opted for this was because I’d always been such a fan of The Album Leaf.
There’s nothing that Lavalle and Kozelek do that is similar – at least not really. Not if you’re to line up your Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon/Mark Kozelek albums with your Tristesa/Album Leaf records – but both have a distinctive palette they work from; one that largely remains unchanged. Here they found the perfect way to combine their sounds – this is then, very much, Mark Kozelek singing over an Album Leaf set of ideas. This is then, very much, Jimmy Lavalle accompanying the guy from Sun Kil Moon as he tells another set of dreary-but-lovely top-of-the-mourning homilies.
The shapes and textures that Lavalle adds to this record give it just enough of a lift – but then the same can be said for the fact that Kozelek, a gifted lyricist and with a voice that, even if an acquired taste, brings so much to each song, has provided an oomph (perhaps a strange word to use when his work always seems to languid) to the always-lovely-but-sometimes-too-samey sounds that Lavalle puts in place.
So here these two morose souls are, all of a sudden adrift in the same ocean, why it’s almost like one of those strange but strangely fitting mashups; as if they didn’t actually plan this at all, but someone like Danger Mouse came along and spliced up some of Kozelek’s tired and weary songs to Lavalle’s mildly electronic soundscapes.
Actually the beats and breaks and shapes beneath give Kozelek’s voice an added soul – he has always been singing from the soul, of the soul, but here he sounds like a soul singer.
And Lavalle is no longer just making patterns, pretty colours of sound, here it’s to songs – actual songs, something that has almost always (even if often intentionally) eluded him.
It’s a long album too – and usually I’d hate that – but I found myself bathing down into this. A set of modern-day sea-shanties, a photo album to flip through, all nostalgic-seeming, forlorn too; always in the right way.
I spent a lot of time with this album last year and now with a new Sun Kil Moon album here – and me realising that this record was the way back in – I’ve returned to it. Still finding the same strange-but-actually-perfect/why-didn’t-they-think-of-this-sooner feel to the roll and gentle swell of this record. Still loving it very much.