THE RED KRAYOLA Introduction (Drag City)
Mayo Thompson has been the lynchpin of The Red Krayola (a.k.a. The Red Crayola) for forty years now. Back in 1966 they were labelmates of The 13th Floor Elevators on Texas imprint International Artists. In 2006 theyve recorded an album with the assistance of Tortoises John McEntire whose ostensibly ironic title might well prove to be well-founded, as Introduction does indeed make a pleasant primer to their work.
Breakout winds a gently wheezing accordion around Will The Circle Be Unbroken, using it as the springboard for some rigorously intellectual theorising (or is it pseudo-scientific hogwash? I dont feel qualified to tell the difference!) that All Music Guide reckons is about global warming. The gently jabbing samba of Cruise Boat sets sail upon a sea of nouns, as if Mayo is regurgitating pages of a dictionary. It plays like deliciously subversive muzak, although his repeated cocktail lounge croon of Chechnya, Chechnya must be one of the years most subtly unsettling musical moments. Psy Ops is a glorious downstairs tumble that sounds like an Americana reconstruction of early Fall, although closing couplet Welcome to the punk rock supper club/Table for two in the corner perhaps knowingly tips its hat towards The Television Personalities Happy Families. Similarly, the tubular belled conclusion of It Will Be (Delivered) sounds like an affectionate rip-off of The Whos A Quick One, Whilst Hes Away.
Puff pursues the story of the titular magic dragon, taking up where its more famous predecessor ends, commercial as ants as Roky Erickson would have it. Greasy Street is slippery and supple, as if some prankster had slipped something lysergic into Dr Johns gumbo; Thompsons repeated chant of what sounds like OPEC, OPEC, OPEC at its close suggests the exact identity of all this oiliness. The instrumental Elegy takes on the closing colours of The Velvet Undergrounds Im Sticking With You, and When She Went Swimming is a thing of dappled, aquatic beauty.
If you were as disappointed with the heavy-handed last Flaming Lips album as I was, you might well find Introduction a sonic tonic. Always approachable, warm and welcoming, it nevertheless refuses to compromise its principles for a second. Cosmic American Music of a different stripe, definitely, and heartily recommended for it.