Kula Shaker
/columbia; 1992/

This is just a brief introduction to the man who recently gave me Kula Shaker first album “K”. He could not be thanked by anything but a prominent role in this review.

 “When you reach a high degree of communication, silence imposes itself naturally.”

Seb WOOd always likes to repeat this kind of statements endlessly to his friends in order to help them setting a range of references and then speak inspired at parties. Taking after Eric Cantona’s ontological philosophy, he would explore his own secret attic to produce this kind of explanatory notes for the masses. Far from being a total communist, he would drink shots of vodka as a start. He would not watch Dirty Sanchez on MTV but would call a bitch by her name: bitch. He would not be proud to know that Peter Parker was Spiderman’s real name unless it was the answer to give to win the last Trivial Pursuit round. Guess what? His favourite character in OZ is Ryan O’Reilly. As far as I know he does not take Viagra. Once you get to know Mr WOOd, you find out that a wristwatch is useful in the end.

Driving randomly through town in his newly acquired Lada Sputnik, a souvenir from the East, he would always try to improve his social image by pretending driving clean. While trying not to listen to Murray Head on the radio, he would insult drivers, passers by, cyclists, cops, animal and vegetal life. Far from being of the fast and furious kind, let’s say that his driving sometimes made you feel like your were on board of a sporty car.

You see, Seb Wood is an urban man.

and now the music... 

Far from being a Kula fan, there are two songs I had on an old mix tape that I still find great today; ‘Grateful When you’re Dead / Jerry was there’ and ‘Hey Dude’. The latter efficiently opens the record and has been used as a soundtrack for many sports reports until today, and you shall agree with me that it was and still is a catchy hymn for the brit pop association. Damn! This Lp is already eight year old! That was the time when bands were judged only on singles. ‘Grateful’ is of the same kind, with more wah wah and ba ba ba. It also pays homage to all the Jerrys in the world and especially Jerry Garcia from the Graveful Dead, so I guess maybe some of you have understood the title by now; it took me some years. I did not really remember the rest of the album, only conscious of the sitar and tabla thing and brit pop dimension. I suppose the title of the album is a reference to Kafka and the cover is a reference both to Sgt Pepper and to the Indian influence in their music. Anyway, anyone can travel the world on the Love Boat to get to know oriental stuff. There is also an attempt at a psychedelic picture in the booklet but nothing offensive, really. Along with the imagery, the music is full of clichés and borrowings. You just have to read the titles of the songs to know what you’re dealing with : Knight on the Town, Temple of Everlasting Light, Govinda, Sleeping Jiva, Tattva. Gosh, Crispian Mills (what a shitty name) even sings in Sanskrit. I wonder why I preferred Cornershop then, maybe that’s only because Cornershop could not be accused of making money on exploiting a culture different to their own.

I like the mellotron on “Tattva” but it is easy to say that it’s a borrowing to the Beatles, moreover, the five minutes of sitar before that single really got me exhausted. “Knight on the Town” even steals the destructive riff from Kick out the Jams in order to talk about the lost souls of heaven that walk on the ground (…?). I guess Armageddon will know who to strike first. I guess “303” is the number of the bus they all took back home from school. People always like to use that kind of details for song names : One after 909 for the Beatles, or for band names : East 17. Choose your reference.

What else to say about Kula Shaker? Only rumours, I guess. I think I read that Mills was accused of racist talking and behaviour some years ago. He would never be part of the cast of a Spielberg production. Some friend told me the drummer got involved with the Sons of mantra, a crepuscular prog-pop band from Brighton. They ate living rats on stage for a while but the singer caught the plague and died. The bass player had some problems with alcohol and drugs, but became a local council attorney in Sussex, thanks to a poker night. The guitarist toured South America with Manu Chao but got fired cause he could play more than 3 chords. Each member of Kula Shaker has a private internet access and downloads the bands songs in order to keep the spirit alive, as they say.

-Anti-review by Angus ‘ruby tuesday’ Anderson

/oct 1st 2004/