This Kula Shaker article was written by Steve Loftin, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Fraisia Dunn.
When you return with your fifth album in twenty years, people being to reach a certain level of expectation. This isn’t calling Kula Shaker lazy, or attacking their output, far from it. Front man Crispian Mills has committed to numerous projects, both musically and non-musically over the years, but now he’s found himself at the forefront of a Kula Shaker comeback. With ‘K2.0’ a clear sequel to their 90’s number one album ‘K’, these twenty years have left him with plenty on his mind, which he divulges to us throughout this record in brilliant fashion.
The first hint we heard of new material was in lead single ‘Infinite Sun’, which is also the first track on the record. Originally stemming from a mantra the band used to busk with at festivals, it’s rich in Hare Krishna style chanting and enveloped in sitar. A perfect combination for a band who take so much inspiration from Indian culture. It begins with just sitar, percussion and chanting until it breaks out with filthy, riff driven guitar and fuzzy bass, which goes to show Kula Shaker doing what they do best and in fact, doing it better than ever.
‘Holy Flame’, using more religious imagery, could allude to either a relationship with a female, or more likely, Mills’ relationship with the band itself. He’s finally found a place where it all makes sense; the lightness of the track, and the hopefulness that is almost carried in the sound solidifies this.
Taking a turn into a folk/country track that twists in sitar, ‘Death of Democracy’ takes on the subject of politics, referring to the current state of the country as that of an ancient Greek civilisation. Continuing with the slight change in genre, ‘Love B With U’ is driven by a jazz piano sequence that melds perfectly with a similar style drum beat. The song refers once again to the peaceful imagery that surrounds Hare Krishna, the main drive behind Mills’ personal ethos.
‘Here Come My Demons’ has one of Mills’ strongest vocal performances, along with one of the strongest musical arrangements. It starts as a slow, acoustic ode to the demons that haunt us. Entwined guitar picking that leads through piano and layered vocals, builds an almost solitary world around the lyrics. Mills even hits a fantastic falsetto. That is until around the end of the first third of the song, where it immediately changes direction after the exclamation “Here they come”, with even filthier guitars and fuzzier bass. Then the final third comes in. It doesn’t quite die back to the beginning, but melds the two, becoming a battle between both loud and quiet.
With no hidden crescendos or riff attacks, ’33 Crows’ is a pleasant acoustic number that is a perfect halfway point for the record. The second half kicks in with ‘Oh Mary’, another guitar focussed, rock number, proving once again Kula Shaker haven’t lost what they had originally. ‘High Noon’ is country and western centred, and one of the strongest cuts on this second half. ‘Hair Bol (The Sweetest Sweet)’, brings us back to the mantra-esque origins of the album and is another acoustic driven track. ‘Get Right Get Ready’ is powerful and once again riff driven, one that certainly wouldn’t be amiss from the 90’s.
Finale ‘Mountain Lifter’ is a wandering track that is essentially a melding of the entire album into just over five minutes. It has acoustic sections, western sections, mantra, fuzzy riffs. If the album had to be condensed into just one single track, this is it, an almost fly-by revisit to what we’ve just listened to.
The sequel to ‘K’ may have been many years in the making given this effort, it’s been worth the wait. The success the debut album garnered could potentially be seen again here, where Kula Shaker have finally re-discovered who they are.
‘K 2.0’ is out February 12th via Strangefolk Records.
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