Friday, March 23, 2012

"Beloved Dean of Magic" by KELLAR

As you will quickly and easily notice, what follows isn't the result of my thoughts after listening the debut from KELLAR "Beloved Dean of Magic", but simply the presentation of the album by the band. Two reasons for this  : first is that I felt it was very well-written and retranscribing correctly the band's sound and identity, second is that I'm honestly not competent enough to write something at least half as realistic and interesting as this (I've tried though)... KELLAR is a very particular experience for me : dissonant, psychedelic, noisy and aggressive, lots of mixed and contrasted feelings; I like it a lot but have difficulties to concentrate and fully enjoy it more than 20 or 25 minutes each time... This is very personnal, so rather than giving a false impression of what is everything except a too minimalist and boring affair, I think the best is to read this and listen right after :

It starts like all classic debut albums should, with a rock anthem. The fact that the rock anthem has no chorus, verse, singing, guitar solos, or even riffs, and sounds like it has been timestretched to tape-loop around Neptune and back and that everything cuts in right at that anthem’s very sky-clawing climax, in it’s last gasps, in the seconds before it starts to unravel and send Jupiter’s moons scattering into wormholes like pool balls, just ain’t no big thing. Round here, that’s the way ALL albums start.

KELLAR are a three-piece instrumental, improvisational texture rock band from Brighton UK. Beloved Dean of Magic, their first release - released February 27 on the Foolproof Projects label - is culled from hours of Can-style jamming in The Black Bunker, a former public toilet turned underground practice space that we’d like to think channels lightning and mysticism down the nearby spire of Brighton’s historical St Peter’s Church - an almighty aerial tuned to a dead channel - but in truth lacks just enough ventilation and oxygen for the players to experience delirium in the musty teenage boys’ bedroom atmosphere.

Incorporating elements of doom, drone, and jazz, KELLAR’s music is aggressive, but only in the same way a cubist painting is aggressive. It’s psychedelic, but only in the same way a butterfly shredding its way out of its chrysalis is psychedelic. Sometimes it invokes metal in all its myriad reincarnations, but purely as a texture, without a note of any of its music.

Or, as one observer of the band’s live debut commented: "Proper psychedelic space rock power music. I felt like I was on the prow of a starfighter hurtling through the Martian version of Elephant & Castle shopping centre. Very, very good."

Comprised of seven movements, which for the sake of argument we’ll call ‘songs’, and are called things like The Vanishing Lamp and Otis Elevator Company, Beloved Dean of Magic was conceived as a kind of psychic tribute to the legendary Houdini-precursor, illusionist Harry Kellar. In retrospect, this mainly seemed like a good excuse to make everything sound like wizards fighting.
Sometimes it sounds like rock music that has been broken, and is trying to reconfigure itself kaleidoscopically, by cycling through all possible permutations of sound that Guitar, Bass, and Drums can provide. It ends on a spiraling 18-minute bass fugue and drum tattoo that soundtracks Harry Kellar’s ascension to heaven. It kicks your balls.


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