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Archives: Sun Kil Moon

2019 8 Mrz

„I also want to die in New Orleans“

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Like Dylan when he went electric, and Waits when he went Beefheartian, Mark Kozelek (aka Sun Kil Moon) divided his fans when he moved from jangly elegiac rock of standard proportions to expansive, digressive prose enquiries into the crumbling state of a nation, and the crumbling state of the man just trying to negotiate it all. But my advice to dissenters is to surrender rather than resist. No, Kozelek hasn’t „lost it“. If anything he’s found it, and found it in abundance.

So on to specifics. In this instance his partners in crime are Donny McCaslin (sax) and Jim White (drums). McCaslin deserves a medal for his restraint. After all, this is the man who bought as much to Bowie’s Blackstar as Mick Ronson and Robert Fripp brought to the great man’s 1970s output. Yet much of the times, here, he simply spends shadowing Kozelek’s guitar riffs, his sensuous breathy timbre adding little more than texture and atmosphere.



Lyrically Kozelek continues to reflect on the things that make life worthwhile – meals, music, books, films, conversations with friends and strangers. But then they’ll be a queasy slide into everything that threatens all this – the current administration, school shootings, the suffering of innocent animals, death. Perhaps there’s more light and humour than before: opening track “Coyote” includes a hilariously telling conversation with his partner centred on a possible gas leak. And “Couch Potato” is even quite chirpy in a melancholy Joni Mitchell kind of way. But Kozelek’s genius lies in how he indirectly conveys how temporary everything precious is, how contingent on outside forces.

Essentially what we have here is music as conceptual art. Or if you prefer, a new form generated from two quite distinct older forms: the quiet pleasures of the short story – wit, character, dialogue, digressions and expositions – given a partly improvised musical framing. No wonder the man has been so prolific in recent years – he’s out there on his own and the possibilities are limitless. How exciting that must be.

written by Howard Male

2018 4 Dez

„The Opener“

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„Now I’m driving down the 80 towards Sacramento / Past Vacaville, that once housed Roman Polanski and Charles Manson, you know / And now I’m driving down the 80 towards Sacramento / Capital of California and the birthplace of Diego Corrales /God rest his soul

Now I’m driving down the 80 towards South Lake Tahoe / Folsom Prison on the right / Dust devil right there in my sight / Now I’m approaching Old Hangtown, they hung bad guys there during the Gold Rush / I love Gold Rush history and all that old Western stuff“

(The Highway Song, tiny excerpt)


Was eine gewisse Extravaganz angeht, stehen, was all die grossen Liederwaren im noch so jungen Jahr angeht, die Monumentalwerke von The Magnetic Fields und Sun Kil Moon einzigartig da. Mark Kozelek und Stephin Merritt pflegen einen autobiographischen Hyperrealismus, der immer wieder ins Surreale entgleitet. Old Boy Stephin pflügt durch seine gesamte Vita, während Old Dude Mark vorwiegend durch die Gegenwart geistert. Es ist das ganz grosse Glück für uns Hörer, dass sie auf den Alben 50 SONG MEMOIR und COMMON AS LIGHT AND LOVE ARE RED VALLEYS OF BLOOD keinen Sticker kleben haben mit der Aufschrift „Strictly Confessional“. Des einen Irrgarten ist des andern Bewusstseinsstrom.

Ich habe zwar anno 2017 kein Songalbum öfter gehört als LAST PLACE von Grandaddy, das auf typisch Grandaddy’sche Weise den Abschied von der Kindheit und einer grossen Liebe zelebriert, im Wissen, dass man dem Schmerz am besten mit süsser Melodie und sanfter Verzerrung zu Leibe rückt, ich gerate in eine marokkanische Wüstentrance, wenn ich Tinariwen höre, ich glaube wieder an die Widerständigkeit des politischen Songs, wenn ich Rhiannon Giddens lausche mit der Faust in der Tasche,  ich möchte wieder mit der jungen Bridget St. John schlafen, wenn ich Laura Marling höre, ich will meine Lieblingsschallplatte von Muddy Waters auflegen, wenn der letzte Ton von Valerie Junes THE ORDER OF TIME verklungen ist, aber „when it comes push to shove“, wie wir Engländer sagen, dann ist das neue Doppelalbum von Sun Kil Moon meine grösste vorstellbare Seelennahrung des jungen Liederjahres, und es wird am Ende mein Album des Jahres sein. Natürlich muss man des Englischen mächtig sein, um nicht diverse Formen von Erschöpfung und Kopfschmerz zu erleiden, bei der empfundenen Schlagzahl von 325 wpm (words per minute), aber das ist schon alles, was der geneigte Hörer mitbringen muss. Dann stellt sich (bei mir jedenfalls, und selbst die manafonistischen Geister werden sich hier scheiden!) jener Sog ein,  mit dem man durch das  Grauen und die Highways gleitet,  durch Alltagshändel und Alltagsglück, durch Atempausen und Schockstarren, Träume und Traumen hindurch, Mortalität und Minne all inclusive. Overwhelming, Sons-of-Anarchy-like!


„On June 2nd, 1851 / James Wang was captured in Centerville, California by bounty hunter Robert Lee Himmel. Wang, wanted dead or alive for the murder of Jack H. Moldy, was brought into the town of Hangtown by Robert Lee and three of his men by stagecoach. Moldy was reportedly bludgeoned to death with miner’s picks by James Wang and three other fugitives, who, according to Wang, fled to Oklahoma. Moldy had apparently slept with Julia White, the daughter of John B. White, copper tycoon of Butte, Montana. Julia White was allegedly the obsession and love interest of James Wang. Wang was hung in Hangtown on June 10th 1851 at 10:00 AM. His last words were „cut this rope, you bastards.“ He was pronounced dead at 10:17 AM June 10″

(The Highway Song, tiny excerpt)

„Now I’m back on the 80, sign for Lake Berryessa / The Zodiac did a murder there, man, I’m obsessed with it / And yeah, a Hillside Strangler got married over there in Folsom Prison / I watched tons of videotapes on the guys and, yeah man, I’m fascinated with both of them / I drive down the 80, past San Pablo Dam / I used to pull catfish out of there in the summertime / Bring ‚em home and fry ‚em up in a pan / I drive down the 80, past Gentleman Jack / Past the C&H Sugar factory, crossing the Carquinez Bridge

Now I’m driving down the 80 / I see the yellow fruit stand / I’m gonna grab me a bag of oranges and some apples and a bag of pecans / Now I’m driving down the 50, past Pollock Pines / Got me a log cabin out there right on the snow line / And out on my acres, got me a pond of ducks / Kid goes fishing on my property, man / Good fucking luck / ‚Cause down in my pond, tied down with a ton of bricks / Is a dead guy bashed over the head with a guitar and stuck with an ice pick“  

(The Highway Song)


Interessanterweise fand ich nie einen Zugang zu den Red House Painters, der ersten Band, die Mark Kozelek bekannt machte. Das war mir zu grau und trist. Aber seine Metamorphose zu Sun Kil Moon änderte alles. BENJI wurde zu einem meiner Lieblingsalben (Ian – the Necks come to your town!!! – is a huge fan of that album of grief and desaster, death and doom (and love of life), too!). Und dann dieses opus magnum. Atemraubend, wie Kozelek kleine Brüche, Risse, Abrisse, Schnitte in diese Tracks montiert. Das Album groovt wie der Teufel, wenn man den Groove entdeckt. Down the Shadowbahn. Unexpected moments of tenderness all the way through.


„On June 10th, 2016 /  Burt Clossin turned himself into authorities unarmed and led police to the body of Dad Rock Slowhand Simpleton. Simpleton was an Eric Clapton impersonator who had recorded two albums in his forty-five years. He was known for embracing a musical style known as yacht rock or, in other circles, dad rock. Bert’s log cabin was subsequently searched. His walls were graffitied with the word „Loser.“ A small CD collection was found, including compact discs by Pete Yorn, Jet, Hot Hot Heat, Veruca Salt, Temple of the Dog, The Donnas, and Thirty Seconds to Mars. All CDs were still in the shrink wrap, unopened, except for Hot Hot Heat. Burt’s flip-phone was filled with texts to a 666 area code phone number. One to Louisiana prefix. All texts said, „Go away.“ His phone was also filled with photos of cats and payphones. The objects used to kill his victim were a ’59 reissued Les Paul guitar made by Epiphone and an antique ice pick bought at an Alameda flea market. No other weapons were found in the cabin. Other items collected were a 24-inch flat-screen TV, boxing blooper videotapes, a VCR, and sports clothing designed by Under Armour. Burt Clossin is now serving a triple life sentence plus five years for the death of Dad Rock Slowhand Simpleton in California’s Corcoran Prison. Burt claimed that his motive for the murder was triggered Simpleton’s singing voice, which, according to Burt, sounded too much like, quote, „The guy who sang „Wonderful Tonight.“ „Wonderful Tonight,“ an Eric Clapton ballad from the album Slowhand was Burt’s 7th grade sweetheart’s favorite song. „She dumped me,“ Burt told investigators, „for a rich kid with a pontoon boat.“

(The Highway Song)

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