Title: Hidden Beast
Catalogue Number: Mckeenstreet Music
Review Format: CD
Release Year: 2008
Somehow it all comes to the Bluesbunny. There are all sorts of music out there just looking for an audience and finding it at Bluesbunny Towers. Judging from what we have learned of Graeme K, he has been out in the musical wilderness for a good while and has become something of a prodigal son with the release of his album "Hidden Beast".
It is difficult to categorise Graeme K's music. There are simple, classical style piano melodies mixed up with hip hop beats, sound samples and distant impassioned vocals to paint strange sonic pictures of a landscape full of marching bands, cartoon characters, fairytale princesses and talking heads. You want to know how a reviewer knows if a song works? Just close your eyes when it is playing and, if you are still in the same room, then it does not work. If you get taken away to another place then you have real music. Music that convinces you. Music that will put you under a spell. A spell that relieves the mediocrity of existence. It's not even about the lyrics or the melody - it's about the effect on you.
There's an odd little introduction to "And Rattle!" then what sounds like some pre war jazz samples throw themselves at you. Layer in the vocals and a drum loop or two and you have set the scene. The parts seem at odds with each other but somehow it all comes together. "Aw Turkish Baby" shows those hip hop influences with a frenetic keyboard sample looping round the laconic vocals. Then comes "Finally" that starts off like the theme to some innocent seventies kid's television series that the BBC would have produced. Like we said earlier, the lyrics don't really seem to matter as they just get weaved into the song to stop it all going cold and unemotional.
"Praying" is more conventional with even a chorus, no less. It is certainly no less satisfying for having an obvious entry point even if there is that underlying feeling of regret to deal with. By this point, curiosity will have got you and you have to listen to the rest of the album. Going all sensitive singer songwriter style with "Hide and Seek", only some unsubtle beats to spoil the moment. The musical theme that has run through this album resurfaces in the last track "Scared to Life" with the loops coming together to form a marching band and lead us all off into the sunset. Maybe this album is an apology for past misdeeds. Music is a personal thing and what means everything to one man will mean nothing to another. Sometimes, though, you get the feeling that you are feeling what the performer feels. Strange but true.
Don't know if you are familiar with the soundtracks to the films that fall into the category of the Czechoslovakian New Wave such as the exquisite work that Luboš Fišer did for "Valerie and her Week of Wonders"? Perhaps not. Anyway, Graeme K has produced an album that seems to come from that same reference point mixing as it does all sorts of musical influences into a coherent, if sometimes discordant, whole. These songs stick with you, sounding familiar yet at the same time strange and disconnected. Quite a challenging listening experience, then, as your ears unpick the layers of sound to uncover something. And that something - unless Bluesbunny is very much mistaken - is Graeme K's heart and soul.
April 24, 2008
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