Some musical ideas always seem better on paper than they do when manifested for the listener. The same can be said of all art I suppose, or at least all art where the process is internal to one creator; the force of that seed of inspiration means that it takes form before there’s any pause given to actually consider what’s being done. It’s certainly the habitual curse of experimental efforts where the often vast intricacy of the sound becomes too immediate and clear to the maker to ever offer more than a mess of contradictions and absurdism to the listener. Which isn’t to say that it doesn’t work at times but the successes are far rarer than the failures and the victims of their own perceived creativity and genius are far more common than those innovators who have actually created something from the seed of an idea which is worth hearing beyond the walls of their own reality tunnel. Anyway, enough of the preamble because there is actually a review to be done here.
‘Brian Invited June…’ by Kauders isn’t quite an out and out concept album but it does spring from an initial idea which is rarely explored with any delicacy in the musical world. It’s what you might call a ‘story’ album. It acts as a whole to, in a sense, create a non-linguistic short story for the listener, something which should be marked now as very distinct from the the tradition of Rock and Hip Hop story albums which, even if they seek to purvey a narrative throughout a given collection, still offer up some consideration towards the individual tracks as they stand out of state. That system can work certainly but it remains tied to the ideals of traditional album construction, the story is confined to the limitations set out by the musical structure, which itself always claims primacy. Kauders’ effort is, to start with, a result of an individuals production, it’s an Electronic piece and so is, as a matter of course, somewhat juxtaposed to the traditional track definitions but it goes further than a lot of similar albums and does turn itself into something from which individual songs can’t really be pulled without losing the quality granted to them by context. Here the story takes the lead and a more literary format is embraced; you wouldn’t tear the chapter from the middle of a book and expect an isolated and comprehensible product, so here you wouldn’t tear a track from the middle of the album and expect a song which can be thrown into the mix on its own.
Musically speaking the ‘experimental’ edges are moderate. There’s no overtly challenging sound scape style production here and where the sound is a little disjointed and awkward it’s only that way in service of the greater, unspoken narrative. By and large it’s a minimalist, uncomfortable listen, which really does convey at times a sense of emotion on behalf of the characters who can be felt almost as ghosts within this largely instrumental effort. The feelings the medium seeks to inspire are almost objectionable in themselves at times but it’s easier to forgive it here given that there’s some sense of the whole allowing for that unpleasantness, the tale is progressed by the music and the tale isn’t necessarily a happy one.
The idea of a ‘story’ album is implied by the title and track listing, both of which trigger a certain level of expectation that the music itself should provide the hinted experience but I do think that even without those minimal linguistic suggestions this would show itself as a literary product. And it really should be approached as such because anyone listening to this in search of a musical experience would find nothing to overly inspire or excite. A nifty trick in itself insofar as it stretches the definitions of both literary and musical art, actively setting one in the role of the other without making it an obvious act of corruption or glib experimentalism.
All of which probably makes me seem rather enthusiastic about this album but I’ll confess to being more intrigued by the idea and the possibilities it hints at than the product itself. It is done well here, well enough to present something which can be viewed as a successful experiment but it isn’t the greatest work this sub-genre has the potential to produce. In fact even now there are greater examples of a musical narrative out there, especially given the fact that numerous traditional styles have adopted non-linguistic sound as a form of story telling but it is more of a rarity in the context of the modern musical landscape.
Anyway, well worth a download if you’re interested in the challenge and potential offered up by the principles of the idea and it’s a solid enough album in itself but perhaps, overall, it’s more food for thought than anything else.