Thank You For Giving Me Your Valuable Time
Just when you thought there was no room for beautiful madness in music any longer, along comes this, the debut album from Kaada, leader of contemporary avant-gardists Cloroform. Taking in everything from doo-wop to glitchy electronica, this is a testament to the popular music of the last 80 years, filtered through disturbing clouds of calculated angst and manic glee.
Kaada is a highly trained classical composer and musician, with a seemingly intuitive grasp of musical history and a way of fitting it all together. Where Cloroform tends to ver-intellectualize at times, this project is a much less constrained affair. Kaada takes the vocal groups of the ’50s and early ’60s as his starting point, and as such, provides us with a familiar starting point from which we can begin to grasp his manic, complex arrangements. Rather than shutting us out with a series of overwhelming soundscapes, then, he goes for a communicative approach towards his potential listeners.
This is not unlike what Mike Patton’s Mr. Bungle did in the early ’90s, digging out a common ground for trash metal and free-form jazz. Or for that matter, what Radiohead recently did for minimalist avant-garde electronica, providing a mainstream rock audience with a way into that unknown and often intimidating territory. Combining the classic novelty pop song with studied modern jazz drum solos, or sleaze-funking up mathematically construed electronic segments is certainly not the most dominating trend in today’s music, and the album is worth a listen on the ground of this alone.
However, reducing Kaada’s project to some musical melting-pot experiment hardly seems fair. He is surely so much more than just a common denominator for seemingly incompatible elements. The album wouldn’t be worth much if it didn’t actually work, if it didn’t manage to convey and communicate something. Thankfully, there’s a real sense of purpose and, first and foremost, heart at work here.
For all its cleverness and intellect, what really makes this album is the sheer excitement of it all. Although it would be unfair for both parties to stretch the comparison, there’s a playfulness and recklessness that this album shares with last year’s Avalanches debut. One imagines Kaada smiling with joy at his own musical discoveries as they unfurl before him, as he twiddles a few knobs here, tinkles a bit on a piano there, or brings his friends in for inspired jam sessions.
Listen to the sensual opening track “Care,” the manic “Black California,” the swampy blues “Mainframe,” or the frantic R&B of “Honk.” It’s all blatantly impossible to dislike. Although impressively conceived, what really get to you are the force, the power, and the presence of Kaada. Absolutely stunning.