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Red Krayola: Introduction

Red Krayola: Introduction

Release Date:2006

By Tim Ellison | Posted 5/17/2006

It’s not always clear what Mayo Thompson is going on about on Introduction, the first album in seven years from his avant-garde rock group Red Krayola, but the goofy flow of Thompson’s oblique lyrics is consistently amusing. He and his current band, the latest in a career that stretches back to the ’60s, have raised the bar of musicality and humor quite a bit on what is certainly Red Krayola’s best release since Thompson started recording for Drag City in 1994.

Thompson’s subject matter includes mental functions, physiology, environment, social relations, culture, and politics, and he superimposes these elements in a fractured matrix. Thompson uses this density of information as a way to create rambling songs like a child would, producing ridiculous melodies off the top of his head and goofing on musical styles like the blues and bossa nova (“Cruise Boat”). Thompson also goes on and on about nothing much at all—most gloriously executed here on “Puff,” his ridiculous sequel to “Puff the Magic Dragon”—and just plain spazzes out on “Psy Ops,” finding humor in repetition and mess-making the way a precocious child does.

Less amusing is the group’s occasional tendency to let the music drone on pointlessly, as with the five-minute lounge-rock instrumental “L.G.F.” Gestures like the deliberate sabotaging of the song “It Will Be (Delivered)” with an ugly guitar part feel like Thompson is merely showing—for the umpteenth time—that traditional expectations do not always apply to avant-garde music. The moving ballad “Note to Selves,” however, manages to avoid artistic self-sabotage—the most explicit demonstration on Introduction of how a real sense of humanity is often present within the group’s nutty musical and linguistic constructions.

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