Thursday, May 26, 2005

Like an English Summer...

COLDPLAY + BLACK MOUNTAIN UPDATE The Black Mountain / Coldplay tour is for 17 dates including the show at the White River Amphitheatre near Seattle, no Vancouver show.

Mary-Catharine introduced me to the French group, Konki Duet, after a copy of the album came into the office a couple of weeks ago. The tricky bit about writing about Konki Duet is avoiding mention of The Lapse and Blonde Redhead, given the shaded vocals of Japanese ex-pat Kumi (formerly of Crazy Curl), but that's a bit of laziness on my part: the group is as capable of speaking about the influence of Robert Wyatt as converging disparate aesthetic threads of aging Europe and the perceived dilettantism of Japanese sensibilities.

The album strikes deeper than the cabaret-pop revisionism or space-lounge of the previous Franco-Japanese collaborations that we've had a glimpse of in North America. It's as whimsical as anything by 60's baroque-poppers Left Banke or American duo Puerto Muerto, delicately constructed and playful without the silliness or affected daintiness of any myriad of artists who might meet the previous description. (More Vashti Bunyan than Joanna Newsom, say...)

Truthfully, there are some moments that fall flat or drag: the instrumentation is poorly served by the inclusion of a drum machine on a few tracks and those low moments could be resolved with a different production approach, but the songwriting is unimpeachable and thestand-out tracks resonate strongly. Album-closer Do! Family, for instance, begins as an organ and guitar lead surrounded by a trio of airy harmonized voices before a lifted arpeggiated motif (courtesy Philip Glass?) arrives and paints the song a sinister shade. The title track Il Fait Tout Gris, available below, is a cover of Visage's euro-synth hit Fade To Grey. (Listening to it, keener folks will probably notice that Visage is owed some unpaid royalties from Ladytron) Extracting a morose subtext from the original, Konki Duet amplifies the humanity of the song by replacing Visage's icy synth and programmed drums with violin and acoustic percussion. Their version is also mostly in French, and therefore, far more humanistic!

Additionally, Konki Duet are members of the Toxic Girls All Stars ensemble, along with members of The Very Ape, Noak Katoi, and Tam. More info on their various projects at!

Konki Duet - Il Fait Tout Gris.mp3

Visage - Fade To Grey.mp3 Original Version

Tomorrow Faust vs. Keith West!

1 comment:

Janey said...

I thought the opening act was Rilo Kiley. Google has a cached version of Jagjaguwar's live shows page, showing Black Mountain as opening for Coldplay in August but those dates aren't there in the current version.

And, oh, dude. I just got back from Taipei, and was wondering about The Konki Duet, whose CD I saw in a bookstore. You reminded me. Off to download ... Thanks.