The Kingsbury Manx play a kind of folk/indie/psych hybrid, with the accent (thankfully) on the folk and psych bits. The Fast Rise & Fall of the South is their fourth album; while it's a pleasant enough listen, the bulk of it fails to really grab the attention, although, in fairness, you may be expected to listen closely and let it grow on you over time. The one track that actually made me stop and listen is closer Ol' Mountainsides, but its feedback overdose served only to irritate, I'm afraid. Mike (Mikael) Jorgensen plays samplotron, with fairly major flute parts on 10008 and Animations, the latter adding strings to the mix. By 2013's Bronze Age, the band had, thankfully, dropped most of their indie influences, becoming more of a roots-rock outfit with occasional modern touches. The album's at its best on In The Catacombs, Solely Bavaria and Custer's Last, although, sadly, we get obviously sampled Mellotron flutes all over opener Weird Beard & Black Wolf and closer Ashes To Lashes (Tailspins).
Mexico's Kinky are apparently part of the Monterrey region's Avanzada Regia scene, which, as far as I can work out, seems to be some kind of Latin/alt.rock crossover. I've no idea how much more electric the band are on their studio recordings, by 2014's MTV Unplugged sees them on acoustic guitars and (electric) upright bass, although the keyboards are decidedly plugged. I'm unable to actually tell you whether or not this is any good; it bored the crap out of me, but I'm sure it's good at what it does, as I can't imagine MTV invite any old third-raters to do unplugged sessions. Nonetheless, even forty-five minutes of this had me tapping my foot, just not in a good way. Best track? Nothing obvious. Worst? A particularly heinous modulated synth brass patch on closer Bien Pedo, Bien Loco might just give it the largest thumbs-down. Ulises Lozano is credited with Mellotron, but we're quite clearly hearing nothing of the sort, the strings on Yo Soy Lo Peor and Para Que Regreses barely even qualifying as Mellotron samples. Can I recommend this in any way at all? Not really, no.
On Momijigari, Kinzoku-ebisu play a highly developed form of progressive hard rock, linking King Crimson with Black Sabbath (spot the Master of Reality quotes in Rvokiranman), with touches of neo-prog in places, albeit not fatally. The side-long title track is probably the album's peak, although the two shorter (relatively speaking) pieces are no slouches, either. Makiko Kusunoki (presumably) adds very obviously sampled Mellotron strings, flutes, choirs and possibly cellos to all three tracks.
Kira Skov's second solo album, after her work in several bands, is a downbeat affair, perhaps roughly comparable to the quieter end of P.J. Harvey. The misspelled John Par(r)ish (appropriately, P.J. Harvey, Giant Sand) supposedly plays Mellotron strings on the title track, but they fail to convince.
Songs for Society is a perfectly ordinary, doesn't-stand-out kind of country/Americana album, that only steps away from its comfort zone on late-nite jazzy closer Meet Me At No Special Place. It's hard to tell where Jamie Edwards' alleged Mellotron might be: the strings on Not Where I'm At? Not a Mellotron, anyway.
Curt Kirkwood was/is leader of The Meat Puppets, one of America's best 'alternative' bands of the last three decades. 2005's Snow is his first solo album, essentially an Americana record, with the occasional burst of high(er)-energy stuff, notably Light Bulb, complete with trumpet solo. Michael Murphy is credited with Mellotron and Chamberlin, making it all the more surprising that both instruments are entirely inaudible across the record, so into 'samples' it goes.
David Kitt is an Irish musician who recorded his first album on his own, after completing a course in music technology, skills he displays on 2001's The Big Romance, an album overflowing with programmed percussion and the like. It doesn't start too badly, in a rather limp singer-songwriter kind of way, but becomes progressively more irritating throughout its length, overlong material like Step Outside In The Morning Light and (especially) Whispers Return The Sun, Rest The Moon stretching the listener's patience to breaking-point. Kitt as 'Kittser' allegedly plays Mellotron himself, with strings all over Step Outside In The Morning Light and less so on You And The City, but they're quite obviously sampled, particularly on the latter. Well, he does specialise in music technology, doesn't he? This could've been a good album with fifteen minutes trimmed from its length (just shorten every track) and all programming removed, but as it is, it isn't.
Michael Kiwanuka makes the kind of music that Mojo mag go (and indeed, have gone) nuts over; imagine a modern soul/pop/jazz hybrid and you won't be too far off the mark. To be honest, the title track of his first release, 2011's Tell Me a Tale EP (the Isle of Wight Sessions) bored me, as did I Need Your Company, although Worry Walks Beside Me's laid-back jazz/blues feel suits his voice right down to the ground. More like this, please. Paul Butler plays a samplotron flute line on I Need Your Company.
Although Swedish, Christian Kjellvander resettled in the States in 1993, playing in Loosegoats until early the following decade. Songs From a Two-Room Chapel is his first solo album and, given his choice of adopted country, it's not that surprising that it has a distinctly downbeat Americana bent, Kjellvander's singing voice sounding as American as you like. Opening with Homeward Rolling Soldier's solo harmonium and voice, the album never quite matches it throughout the rest of its length, although closer Rid runs it a close second. Kjellvander and Anders Tingsek are both credited with Mellotron, although its only obvious use is the strings on opener Homeward Rolling Soldier, fairly obviously sampled.
Klabautamann (named for a mythical Baltic sea-sprite) play 'atmospheric metal', for want of a better term (it isn't mine this time), combining elements of black, progressive and 'traditional' metal to form a sometimes interesting gestalt. I know death-grunting, or whatever it's called, is considered the norm in some metallic circles, but it does sound silly if you're out of your teens (doesn't it?), spoiling what might otherwise have been a really good album. Actually, it's far from all spoiled and has many worthwhile features, not least its unusual, angular riffs; maybe they'll finally grow out of it and make a classic one day? Fredy Schnyder (Nucleus Torn) adds samplotron flutes and strings to one of the album's best tracks, closer Noatun.
Although Frank Klare's EM is commonly referred to as 'Berlin School' (i.e. sub-Tangs), going by 1999's Area 2000: Music for Mystery Themes, I'm not seeing it. What I am seeing is a techno-influenced, very digital form of the genre, typified by the distorted vocal samples on Bigfoots End and the 'chiffy' synth patches on several tracks. But is it any good? Matter of opinion, as always, but I can't say it floated my boat to any great degree. On the samplotron front, we get distant choirs on Area 2000 Theme that sound more 'Mellotron' than 'generic'.
I'm afraid to say that 2000's Modular Music (recorded two-to-three years earlier) in general and Modul Two in particular exemplifies everything's that's bad about modern EM to me: interminable, with a complete lack of tonal or harmonic variety, adding up to utter boredom (although, in fairness, Modul Four partially makes up for the rest of the album's failings). Harsh? Doubtless, but washes of insipid string samples layered over uninspired electronic rhythms, topped off with Mellotron samples and synth warbles doesn't make for the greatest listening experience, at least around these parts. Sampled Mellotron on the first three tracks, with flutes on Moduls One and Three, choirs on Modul Two and both sounds on Modul Three.
2003's Memorial Dreams is a slight improvement, featuring several piano-led tracks, although the techno-ish Memorial Dreams 8 is a little unnecessary, at least to these ears. Three samplotron tracks, although I think it's fair to say that Klare uses the sounds as pads, a difficult trick with a real machine, with drifting strings on Memorial Dreams 2, more of the same with similarly drifting choirs on ...3 and choirs on ...8, for what it's worth. I found the same year's Berlin Parks something of a retrograde step, Britzer Garten and Mauerpark displaying a monotony that other dull EM artists can only dream of. Sorry? I'm missing the point? Oh well. More of those wispy samplotron strings on Victoriapark and Treptower Park, for what it's worth, which is very little.
Jeff Klein is an American singer-songwriter whose third (and, to date, latest) album, 2005's The Hustler, is a bit of a mish-mash of styles, to be honest, veering from a primitive rock'n'roll/indie crossover (Nearly Motionless) through not-especially-mainstream pop/rock (Suzanne) to slightly menacing hushed balladry (closer Nobody's Favourite Girl). I'm not sure about some of the album's production tricks, notably the distorted drums on Cobalt Hue and the programmed percussion on Pity, but I'm sure Klein could always blame it on his producer. The album also features appearances from some of Klein's co-conspirators, not least Ani DiFranco, Mike Napolitano and Afghan Whig/Twilight Singer Greg Dulli, which may explain some of its quirks. Jacob Schulze (possibly Schultze) is only credited with Mellotron on one track, Nobody's Favourite Girl, although it's basically inaudible. Ironically, however, it turns up on three other tracks, with strings on The 19th Hole, Nearly Motionless and Pity. Or does it? Not really, no; while the first two just about pass muster, the solo strings at the end of Pity give the game away quite comprehensively. I mean, these aren't even good samples...
Klondyke's Guld is an album of harmless, folk-influenced Danish-language pop/rock, probably at its best on the Americana of Hidsigprop and Hvis Din Mund Gav Kys. Gæst Vincent adds sampled Mellotron flutes to 'bonus track' Hvis Din Mund Gav Kys (Radioversion), featuring distinctly different instrumentation to the regular version. Four years on, Verdensmand keeps the band's way with a melody, but loses the folk influence, replacing it with a kind of mainstream alt.rock. Listenable, but a little unexciting. Vincent's supposed Mellotron credit on Bukowki presumably refers to the track's deeply non-Mellotronic strings.
Once upon a time, Chris Knight's Americana might have been dismissed as mere 'country' by a contemptuous and dismissive rock press, but, with the rise in acceptability of the new American folk, it's become a great deal easier to see his style for what it is: a true American voice that references Johnny Cash and Steve Earle rather than Nashville's glossy commercial orthodoxy. Knight has actually written songs for other country artists, but few of them are household names, at least on this side of the Atlantic. A late starter, he was thirty-eight when his debut album, 1998's Chris Knight was released. Chock full of classic Americana, while the tunes are good, the lyrics are the album's highpoint, every song telling a story, mostly of hard times, many in the first person, although I believe Knight actually has a fairly conventional, college-educated background. Best tracks? Maybe opener It Ain't Easy Being Me, House And 90 Acres and Love And A .45, although, truth be told, there's nothing genuinely bad here, even the most 'country' tracks being acceptable to those acclimatised to the new traditionalism of alt.country. Most heartbreaking lyric? Closer William, telling an all-too-real story while avoiding country clichés with aplomb. Tony Harrell plays samplotron, with a wobbly and barely-recognisable flute part on The Band Is Playing Too Slow (an attempt to synthesize the sound?). The reason to buy this? That age-old trick of combining the music with real human interest stories, which I suppose is the best country music's finest achievement.
Knight Area began as effectively Gerben Klazinga's solo project, although he brought in a dozen or so friends to help him with their/his debut, 2004's The Sun Also Rises. In what seems to have become the grand Dutch style, it's a typical modern neo-prog album, reference points including Marillion (old and new), IQ and the less adventurous bits of Spock's Beard, all of which adds up to a not-terribly exciting release, full of all the usual neo- clichés. Rather in the way that the album's full of Mellotron strings and choir that aren't actually a Mellotron, it's also full of progressive rock that isn't actually progressive rock at all, merely a pale imitation with all the life sucked out of it. Its worst crime is probably its wholesale cribbing of bits from IQ albums; there's at least one direct rip, although I'm having trouble placing it. Fantastically unoriginal. By their follow-up, 2007's Under a New Sign, Knight Area had become a septet and it shows; while still deeply in debt to their predecessors, it actually feels like a band playing this time round, with even the occasional innovation (notably the jazz organ part in the title track and the recorder section that opens closer A Different Man - Part II) to show for their new approach. Unfortunately, though, by and large it's still a typical neo-prog album, complete with ex-Cliffhanger bassist Gijs Koopman's Taurus pedals, utilised in true Pallas style, although it's decidedly more listenable than The Sun Also Rises. Plenty of samplotron, including a couple of solo choir parts, although none of it sounds particularly genuine.
A few chinks of light shine through 2009's Realm of Shadows; while mostly typical neo-, it has little moments of invention in places, showing the potential for expansion into the possibility of the band's own sound. The complexities of Antagony are a real step forwards, although there are far too many passages like the attempt at a stately guitar/synth/'Mellotron' choir part in closer Occlusion for the album to do any better than barely scrape three stars. The samplotron use is pretty much as before, with a particularly good string part opening Momentum, although they never use them for anything other than standard chordal parts. Come on, chaps, a little innovation please! The following year's privately-released double live Rising Signs From the Shadows (very witty, chaps) contains the larger part of the band's recorded legacy up to that point: disc 1 consists of the entirety of Realm of Shadows, played in sequence, disc 2 being a 'best of' their first two releases, merely highlighting how immature their early work sounds compared to their later. Incidentally, I've just realised that part of Antagony is highly reminiscent of one of REO Speedwagon's noxious early '80s hits, which is rather unfortunate. I see that vocalist Mark Smit doubles on keys, which explains how they manage to cover so many parts on stage; as a result, loads of samplotron, with strings and choir all over the place, actually sounding slightly less obviously sampled in a live setting.
2011's Nine Paths is, sadly, something of a retrograde step, no more exciting or original than Under a New Sign, the undead ghosts of IQ being summoned forth yet again. Very little samplotron indeed this time round, with minor string usage on Please Come Home, The River and a brief choir part on Wakerun, the only full-on part being the strings on closer Angel's Call. 2014's Hyperdrive showcases a complete stylistic change into the world of prog-metal, albeit with a neo- influence, most likely due to the replacement of guitarist Mark Vermeule with Mark Bogert, while Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon, Star One) also guests. I don't know whether it has anything to do with the band's longevity (I believe they've been in existence since the '90s), but they've taken to their new style like a duck to water, producing a pretty reasonable effort in the process, although the overt neo-isms on closer Hypnotized do the album few favours. Best track? The Lost World opens with a melody that sounds like it's been lifted, almost note-for-note, from Death, The Reaper, from The Enid's mighty In the Region of the Summer Stars, although, given Robert John Godfrey's penchant for 'borrowing' existing works, it could well be a Gregorian chant in the vein of Dies Irie, (un)coincidentally also 'utilised' on Region.... Samplotron choirs open the album, also turning up on around half of its tracks, although they're a fairly minor player in the overall sonic picture.
Kodeine operate in that rather louche, loungecorey area occupied by (at the good end) The Divine Comedy and (at the less good end) Stereolab, finding themselves somewhere in the middle. Kodeine II is probably at its best on opener Move On and the faux-punky C90, but it's all a little unexciting, I'm afraid. Jayne Freeman's credited with Mellotron; are those occasional choir chords on C90? Definite samplotron strings on June Parade and upfront chordal flutes on Leia's Party.
Despite its title, Confessions of an Indiegirl is more of a soulful-end-of-country record, at its least dull on Breathe. I'm sure the lyrical content is all-important, but (and excuse me for being difficult) I tend to listen to music for the, y'know, music. Jason Hart plays samplotron flutes on Don't Give Up (and The World You Call Home?) and distant strings on Bari Koral's version of Gladys Knight's Midnight Train To Georgia
Going by Bella Maniera, Kim Koschka clearly sits in the avant-garde realms - not even avant-rock. Plenty of atonal pianos, clattering percussion and synth backdrops, should that be your thing. Halving its length might possibly make it more listenable, but then, I'm not this album's target audience. I think Koschka plays samplotron flutes on The Terminal Beach.
Gleaning much useful information about Samae Koskinen isn't the easiest of tasks as, like so many other 'local stars', there isn't much about him online that isn't in his home tongue, in this case, Finnish. It seems he's also the main player in Sister Flo, also unknown outside Finland, which probably makes him one of the country's current superstars. The aptly-titled Vol. 1 is a perfectly respectable modern pop/rock album, although I suspect knowing Finnish probably helps in its appreciation, as, like so many similar, the devil's in the lyrics. While there's nothing wrong with the record, it's far too mainstream for my tastes, but compared to some/most of the dreck you hear on the radio, it's a work of genius. Koskinen plays samplotron, with strings on Ulappa, Leikkipuistossa, Talven Jälkeen and Kummitus, plus flutes and strings on closer Aurinko. His follow-up, 2009's Elossa, is not dissimilar to its predecessor, its pleasant pop/rock feel and respectable songwriting largely unsullied by tedious modernisms. Koskinen on samplotron again, with major flute and string parts on Vapaamuurari.
Kosmos' debut, 2005's Tarinoita Voimasta, looks like a prog album and gets reviewed on prog websites. It is, however, a slightly progressive Finnish folk album and probably all the better for it, featuring many traditional instruments alongside the more familiar tools of the trade. Most of the album's much of a muchness, to be honest, although the surprisingly early '70s hard rock of Seven Planets made me sit up and take some notice. The 'Mellotron' on most tracks, largely flutes and strings, is fairly obviously sampled (despite no fewer than three credited players), but nice to hear anyway. 2007's Polku is an improvement on its predecessor, I'd say, although it's hard to pick out 'best tracks'; there's nothing wrong with anything here, assuming you like folk-with-a-touch-of-prog. Although both Kimmo Lähteenmäki and Ismo Virta are credited with 'Mellotron', it's fake, but their samples are used well, with low strings and flutes on Omini'i Dakakos, murky choirs and strings on Eksyin and strings and flutes again on Nuoruus. They clearly aren't acquainted with Esa Kotilainen or I'm sure he'd have lent them his.
2009's Vieraan Taivaan Alla keeps up the quality, to the point where I can't understand why one of the specialist labels hasn't picked this lot up for wider distribution. The material is, if anything, even more varied than before, from typical Kosmosian opener Uneton Enkeli through acoustic strumalong Luovun, the melancholy, violin-fuelled Renée and storming twelve-minute heavy psych closer Vieraat. Both Aapo Helenius and Virta are credited with Mellotron, with strings (including some chords well below the Mellotron's range) on Uneton Enkeli, watery strings on Renée, solo flute and string lines on Yön Hiljaisuus, a flute line on Tuulisina Päivinä and strings all over Vieraat. 2012's Salattu Maailma shifts back towards a more folkish direction; pleasant, yet of less interest to the prog fan, I'd imagine. Highlights include the 'Mellotron'-heavy opening title track, the gentle Peili and the dark, lengthyish Uni, although more average fare (Loitsu, Tuuli) let the side down a little. Samplotron on most tracks, not even attempting to sound genuine much of the time. Possibly not Kosmos' best release, but by no means a bad record.
Kosmos Express were apparently a mainstream/Christian crossover act (as they say in music biz circles), although, thankfully, there isn't too much of the CCM about their second (and last) album, 1998's Simulcast. Unfortunately, there isn't too much of the dynamic or interesting about it, either, although it kicks off like it's going to be at least a passable US punk effort, an impression that doesn't last for long. The material's pretty one-dimensional and what's with the Strawberry Fields Forever rip on Lifetime and the You Only Live Twice theme (probably via that stupid and then-contemporaneous Robbie Williams song) thing on The Way? Gene Eugene plays samplotron, with an overt flute part on In My Face and one or two other 'possibles', although all cello parts are real.
Richie Kotzen lets his Glenn Hughes-ish penchant for 'soulful rock' get the better of him on 1997's Something to Say, sadly. While the album has a few decent tracks, there are too many slushy ballads (notably Aberdine) for comfort, leading to a dissatisfying listen overall. Kim Bullard is the guilty party on the samplotron front, with an occasional string part on the aforementioned Aberdine.
Spell is a passable enough set of indieish singer-songwriter material, although I feel that Chris Kowanko would do better to listen to fewer of his indie heroes and more songwriters with some depth to their work. Samplotron strings on a few tracks, for what it's worth.
Filip "Flip Kowlier" Cauwelier's debut album, 2001's Ocharme Ik, is a pleasantly folky/jazzy outing, pretty much all acoustic, although the end of Moeder Lieve Moeder and Slichte Mins buck the prevailing trend. Sadly, the Flemish lyrics have probably alienated an international audience, although the music stands up perfectly well on its own. Better tracks include Welgemeende - its ascending cadences remind me obscurely of Tim Christensen's Dizzy Mizz Lizzy - and the surprisingly Gallic Barabas. Kowlier plays samplotron flutes on the title track.
Diana Krall is so famous that even I, a dedicated non-jazzer, have heard of her, although, after sitting through over an hour of Glad Rag Doll, I rather wish I hadn't. Don't get me wrong; it's impeccably written, played, sung, produced etc. etc., but I hate this kind of late-nite supper club piano jazz with a passion. Especially over an hour of it. Anything I didn't hate? Maybe the klezmer-esque death ballad When The Curtain Comes Down. Keefus Ciancia's Mellotron? Inaudible.
Poul Krebs is a Danish-language singer-songwriter; maybe better to be a potentially big fish in a small pond? Forbandede Vidunderlige Tøs is entirely harmless, at its best on the slower numbers, notably En Sporvogn De Kalder Desire. Krebs and Per Frost are credited with Mellotron, with samplotron flutes on Hvem Har Stjålet Det Glimt and closer Tilbage Til Virkeligheden. Fifteen years later, Asfalt proves that Danish-language, middle-of-the-road pop/rock really isn't cutting it here today, or, for that matter, any other day. There is precisely nothing about that stands out in any way, not even Palle Hjorth's alleged, yet entirely inaudible Mellotron.
Leif Edling from seminal Swede doomsters Candlemass put Krux together in 2002, producing a doom/trad metal crossover classic in their self-titled debut. I only hover on the edge of this world, to be honest, but the quality of the material is fairly evident; comparisons with the ever-improving Spiritual Beggars are decidedly valid. Basically, it's as heavy as fuck, but with sensible vocals (from Mats Levén) and guest keys from Carl Westholm. Now, I've found various sources claiming that he plays 'Mellotron, organ and Moogs', but the whole lot sound decidedly suspect to me, so I'm sticking this in here until/if I find otherwise. Standout tracks? Evel Rifaz seems to be a fuzz bass solo (whether or not you consider that to 'stand out' is entirely up to you), while the seven-part, twelve-minute epic Lunochod (about the Russian space programme) is probably the most focussed piece here. Westholm's 'Mellotron' work consists of string parts added to most tracks, usually in a supporting role to the guitars. On Krux itself, the strings sustain at the end, displaying their deficiencies, although I was already somewhat suspicious as to their origin. As I said, I could be wrong - wouldn't be the first time... Anyway, if you're into that whole Sabbath/doom thing, you stand a good chance of loving Krux and real or not, the keyboards lift the whole thing to another level.
One of many singles released by Kula Shaker, or rather, their grasping record label, around the time of their excellent K debut, their cool version of Hush (Joe South via Deep Purple) featured a live b-side version of Govinda that appeared to feature the mighty Mellotron. I've been informed, however, that it's all samples and they never used one live. Probably never owned one, thinking about it. They're good samples for the time - eMu Vintage Synth? Anyway, a good track, with a 'Mellotron' part not on the studio version, making it worth hearing, assuming you can track a copy down. Old CD singles are a bugger to trace, aren't they? Could've done without Crispian's cringe-inducing intro, though...
After a softly-softly 2004 reformation, the band released their third album, Strangefolk, in 2007 and, while it wouldn't be true to say they've recaptured their initial magic, it's a vast improvement on their second effort. The late '60s are still Mills' chief inspiration and he still avoids 'doing an Oasis', making a very listenable album in the process, top tracks including the propulsive Die For Love, Song Of Love/Narayana and the fey title track. Bassist Alonza Bevan plays what has to be sampled Mellotron this time round, with strings on Die For Love, flutes on Song Of Love/Narayana and Dr Kitt, with distant choirs on Hurricane Season.
Moving on to 2010... Proving that the reformed band weren't just a one-off flash in the pan, they've followed up with Pilgrims [sic.] Progress, a good, if slightly uneven album, highlights including opener Peter Pan R.I.P., Ophelia and cataclysmic prog epic Winter's Call, finishing things off nicely. Unfortunately, despite the album's nice, sensible length, it contains rather too many lightweight, faux-'60s efforts (Cavalry, Ruby), or rather generic indie ones (Modern Blues) for its own good. The only obvious 'Mellotron' is a big string part opening Winter's Call, but the even, long attack on every note gives the sample game away. So; a handful of great tracks, rather too many ordinary ones, probably worth hearing anyway.
Bird's Eye View is your standard-model modern singer-songwriter effort, its more upbeat efforts indistinguishable from the pop/rock mainstream. Scott Seiver's credited with Mellotron, presumably the sampled strings at the end of Under My Bed.
Heinz Rudolf Kunze's Korrekt is perfectly harmless pop/rock, with the occasional fashionable dance rhythm used to show he's not an old fart, although to the listener attuned to something a little more demanding, its appeal palls somewhere around the middle of its opening number. It isn't helped by its excessive length, particularly the near eleven-minute Die Peitschen, which seems to go on for ever. Matthias Ulmer's credited with Mellotron, with pitchbent strings on Mörderballade and Aller Herren Länder and a more 'regular' part on Nicht Mal Das, all sampled.
For some reason, I was expecting Kurai to be a 'typical' Italian progressive outfit (or RPI, if you frequent ProgArchives), but it turns out that they're towards the ambient end of the avant-rock spectrum. To be honest, seventy minutes of this is, ooh... at least forty too many. Plenty of interesting bits (in an ambient kind of way), but too many tracks that sound like someone dragging a paving slab across a concrete floor. Samplotron choirs on opener Herbert Quain, strings on La Folgore Nera and both, plus flutes, on closer White.
Miles Kurosky is Beulah's ex-frontman, his debut solo release, 2010's The Desert of Shallow Effects, carrying on his skewed psych vision. It's not a resounding success, to be honest, with too many songs that favour arrangement over composition, although the overall effect is perfectly listenable, if not that exciting, better tracks including I Can't Swim and The World Won't Last The Night. There are no fewer than three credited musicians on 'Mellotron' (which almost certainly isn't), Patrick Abernathy, Eli Crews and Nik Freitas. Between them they add flutes to She Was My Dresden and West Memphis Skyline, with flutes and vibes (alongside real ones) on Housewives And Their Knives and is that church organ in the background on Dog In The Burning Building? The jury's still out on that one, I think. Generally speaking, fans of Beulah will probably like The Desert of Shallow Effects, but I think Kurosky will have to tighten up his songwriting before he's ready to produce any really memorable solo work.
Norway's Kwyet Kings (they have a Euroboys connection), clearly named in honour of The Kinks' 1965 EP, Kwyet Kinks, are generally regarded as being a garage throwback outfit, although the lead track on their second single of 1994, Need My Lovin' Tonight, pays further homage by being a laid-back number with prominent acoustic guitar (as was the case with The Kinks' EP). The B-side tracks are both more typically garage, but still worth hearing. Eystein Hopland plays samplotron on the A-side, with background strings and flutes, alongside the ever-present Vox organ (or is it a Farfisa? I can never tell). All three tracks are included on Dionysus' 2000 compilation, The Singles'n'Shit; worth hearing for garage aficionados, but probably not for the Mellotron.