dave king is an amazing guy. i know him personally, and he couldn't be nicer. he's hilarious, extremely creative, personable, and professional. i met him when i moved to minneapolis back in 2001. he was a huge deal then, before he blew up internationally. he is the drummer for the bad plus, happy apple, and halloween alaska. each of these projects is unique unto itself, and extremely musical.
this record is all king. he is playing piano and percussion, so i think it's overdubbed. i wonder about the compositional process. are these tunes charted out with specific parameters or do they suggest open concepts? as a solo artist, i would imagine that you have to fight the urge to play that same old shit you always do in that one spot. if anyone can keep those creative lines from blurring, it's king.
these tunes are short. they segue quickly to the next one. i have a difficult time sitting through longwinded songs, movies, stories, books, jokes, solos, lectures, etc. my brain can't focus that long (i know, call it what you will...) the first record i ever had that had short pieces like this was john zorn & bobby previte euclid's nightmare so great. each piece was around one minute in duration. what can you squeeze into that space? what's too much?
bees is really cool. i like the hodge podge of acoustic and electronic instruments. old school electronic drum sound with the arts high boogie sounds great. i like the funky out-of-tune piano. a bunch of repeated stuff here - is he improvising? listening to the unique characteristic of some of these keys? carefully choosing his notes? WHOA... here comes the electronic stuff. super cool. rock jam vibe in the drums, clever and catchy melody. having seen him perform a million times, i can only imagine the joy beaming from his face as he is playing these parts. the mix is interesting to me. did he have these ideas in mind right away or did he deal with it all after the fact? i consider myself to be a rather creative guy but know that i micromanage my music, in search of a very specific thing. is king loose or a dictator? and who cares, when you are managing yourself only?
the song titles are awesome. king is a comedian, and shatters the unwritten rule that songs all need to have some super serious title. bullshit. highly varnished academic realism is a great choice. the tune suddenly goes to this percussion solo thing in the middle, electric and acoustic kits improvising at the same time. king brings back the piano clusters towards the end, revealing a recognizable form to his composition.
he's a pretty decent pianist. does he work on it? does ethan help him out? it seems that several drummers are pretty good pianists. jack dejohnette is notoriously good. does king write from the piano? bill stewart is a good writer, as is matt wilson, as is jim black. i know that brian blade writes from the guitar. how about those other guys? king's tunes are obvious to me in the bad plus set lists. not necessarily thick in the harmony department, but catchy in terms of overall melody/groove/vibe. my friend paul micich once said that tunes like that "have legs". (he was talking about bach).
his cymbals sound great. i wish i could play cymbals on my saxophone. there are times when a well placed cymbal seals the deal musically. indelicate just had some nice sampled cymbal wash, trailing a real cymbal hit, like some jacked up reverb. very inventive. i bet he heard that and than sought to recreate that. i want to feel good does just that for me.
what were his influences for these tunes? has he had them for a while or did he write a bunch of it for this project? i hear some keith jarrett '70s meets tecmo football meets joey baron meets denardo coleman's innocence (when he was 10 with ornette on the empty foxhole). i imagine that he considers himself to be a better drummer than a pianist or electronic musician. which leads which compositionally? are his weaknesses or strengths more important to him?
i love dave's stuff. this record will need to grow on me. it might be his fault, after all. he is fantastic in so many settings that include other people. i am fascinated by how he interacts with others. it's curious to hear a solo album. did it come off like he hoped? would mine if i did something like this? what inspired this writing, this project? does he suffer from the stepping-out-solo problem? lead singers from successful rock bands make their own albums. sometimes they are very successful, sometimes not so much. the composite for me is enough to keep me going.