The Kallikak Family
May 23rd 2007
May 23rd 2007 is one of those recordings that the reviewer has an unfair advantage over the average listener in terms of sussing out a meaning in a fairly oblique concept album. The press release contains one sentence, a crucial piece to the puzzle, that’s absent from the album artwork: “The record as a whole explores the meaning of specific days and locations in the life of one person, all leading up to May 23rd 2007, the date on which a fortune teller predicted the artist’s [Andre Peterson] death.” It’s fairly important information to make sense of the aural miasma Peterson and his cohorts have cobbled together to tell a story through sounds, not through lyrics.
Even lacking knowledge of the impetus behind this project, the disc is a pleasant 40-minute stroll down psychedelic/electronic/folk pathways. The juxtaposition between the organic and inorganic from track to track, and within the songs themselves, is surprisingly not as disorienting as it would seem. Peterson’s subtlety and quiet movement from one style to the next gives the record a dream-like quality, where all the synapses are firing at once. There’s still an adherence to logic, no matter how twisted that makes the surreality of, say, hearing cut-up Indian chants spliced to boiler room clanks that eventually lead to gentle finger-plucked acoustic guitars sound perfectly natural. Even the minimal funeral dirge of the title track, the disc’s final song, doesn’t sound out of place after the cacophony that precedes it. May 23rd 2007 is a great example of how abstraction can work well to evoke a human message. It just might be in The Kallikak Family’s best interest to let all of their audience in on what that message is the next time around.