Kenny Anderson, otherwise known as King Creosote, is on a bit of a roll. His latest CD, Astronaut MeetsAppleman follows 2011’s Mercury Prize nominated Diamond Mine with Jon Hopkins, and the artistic breakthrough film soundtrack, From Scotland With Love. From chamber orchestras to bagpipes, Astronaut Meets Appleman has it all. Masquerading as a love song the simple strummed guitars of ‘You Just Want’, are joined with an orchestral arrangement that builds over seven minutes. Anderson’s slightly twisted take on romance comes to the fore, “when you need someone to cry on in the depths of despair, I will be elsewhere.”
Bagpipes appear on ‘Melin Wynt’, a song an anti-wind turbine song named after a Welch town called “windmill,” even though there’s nary a windmill to be found in the town. While Anderson’s willfully contrary sense of humor is on display, that same quality is what takes his new disc to such special places. Again and again he brings incongruous lyrical ideas together in ways that actually make sense, for example ‘Love Life’ references both Flashdance and Scarlett Johansson!
‘Gentle Peter Rabbit Tea’ features vocals from Anderson’s young daughter repeating the title over a string and keyboard arrangement that would be intriguing on its own. It’s one of those moments when what is being said becomes less important as the track is shaped by the string arrangement encircling the words. Bagpipes reappear on Surface a rockier track about losing sight of ourselves and each other, about being eclipsed and taking cover; about seeking light and glimmering hope and finding a way when darkness falls. “I close me eyes and I count to 10 times 10 and ready or not it’s a heady descent.”
The final track, ‘Rules of Engagement’, begins with soft, wistfully sad keyboards examining the battle constantly raging between men and women. Yet the track concludes with a heartbreakingly wistful slice of harp played by Catrionia McKay with Anderson’s vocals so far back in the mix to be virtually inaudible. Like so much of King Creosote’s recent work there is an audible sense of ache and longing just below the surface. These emotions do more than merely colour the work. Happiness and heartbreak provide the depth necessary to connect with his audience on an emotional level, making this a disk worth listening to again and again.
Words: Bob Fish