Komara - Komara
Twisting, contorting, snaking and grooving, the avant-garde instrumentation of Komara – a new project and collaboration between King Crimson sticksman Pat Mastelotto and experimentalist David Kollar – is everything you’d expect it to be. That isn’t to say that it’s predictable; the free-roaming jazz undercurrent that fervently flows through this album is as far removed from the linearity of predictability and accessibility as you could possible get when compared to what we in the Western World have come to define as traditional song writing. Yet it falls in line with that same darkness and the dilapidated brooding as anyone familiar with the backgrounds of these two boundary pushing musicians would have imagined. It is both garish and soothing in the same earshot. For that, despite its eccentricity, it will doubtlessly fall onto the ears of fans of progressive and jazz loving folk effortlessly. We are, after all, the kind of people who thrive on such digressions from the norm.
It fucks with your head and has the ability to fluctuate your levels of sobriety even if your system is clean of drink and mind-altering drugs. But as far as mindfucks go, this is damnably compelling.
With album art coming from the bewilderingly ingenious mind of Tool guitarist Adam Jones, Komara is a foray into obscure territories. The way it impacts you will surely differ as this is an expansive collection of songs in the sense that they are sporadic and extremely adventurous. But if you allow yourself to submerge within its murky waters – this is an album where moody, overcast skies hang threateningly above you – rewards will be duly reaped.
Dirty Smelly sounds like sin and seduction. It gurns through a plodding beat while a kaleidoscope of colourful, reverb lavished trumpets and twinkling sound effects spreads about the song’s atmosphere like a vile of blood dropped into a glass of crystal clear water. It blots the palette in mesmeric fashion, the red of the blood moving about the water like tree roots venturing through soil for nutrients. Deeper in those waters a venomous, barking bass line dwells and gives the whole a definitively nastier guise.
The longest track of the record, 37 Forms builds typically percussive King Crimson fashioned drum work, itching uncomfortably as it dips in and out of a myriad of time signatures. For the most part, clanging bass interlopes with simplistic but moving horns to enliven the foreground. At points the jittery drums will drop out, allowing a full focus on the latter. Then the drums return, falling up the stairs in the process, that wonderful, clumsy sounding approach so stylish. Keyboards and a wealth of other instruments weave in and out making it all a bit disjointed – but disjointed purposefully and executed with precision.
As a record it encompasses so much, conversing with the listener in such a breadth of musical styles and languages so fluently that it has you enrapt throughout. Whatever the musical imagery projects upon its audience, be that aforementioned undercurrent slithering through serene and beautiful valleys (She Sat In Black Silt) or more hazardous rocky crags (A Collision of Fingerprints) it begets a methodical hold on you. So often with a band we see the peaks too try-hard at reaching for an epic status and the troughs too meagre to be anything but background noise. Komara, however, have mastered the art of variation, at injecting new sub-plots to their storyline both when it was subconsciously needed yet completely unexpected.
Take the chillingly evil dialogue-smattered piece that is God Has Left This Place. It opens like a scene from Frank Miller/Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City, painting a stark insight into a dramatic protagonist’s life in that predominantly black and white but colour flecked cinematography. ‘I have to get out’ cries a young girl’s voice amid veneering trumpets which, enriched by a crisp production, wail like elephants from a bad dream.
Sounds like this don’t get much more shadowy and cutting and songs like this will never find commercial success. If it did it would be a crying shame. This is an album that stands for nought but a selfish but ultimately inspiring individuality. As such, there will be many who find this record too hard to digest, too alien to truly fathom and appreciate. For others, the thought of never discovering every hidden nuance is thrilling. There are annals of space which we as a human race will never discoverer, let alone see, travel to and study. That belittling realisation is one that we stargazers marvel at and in much a sense, Komara have created a similar galaxy here that stretches beyond our imagination. It mines your senses and sparks within you that deep level of reflective contemplation avant-garde music is so poignant for. This is the perfect kind of ‘turn on, tune out’ record.
Afterbirth, perfectly titled, comes with a burst of dynamics and swagger on the flip side of a prolonged interlude of what seemed like perennial calm. It is methodical chaos that sounds like a Rio carnival during a frenzied acid trip. I think it’s superb.
It’s a challenging listen but a challenge that you will find delight in attempting, a puzzle you may very well revel in solving. Throw your superlatives at this one lads, they’ve created a monster.
Words: Phil Weller