Title: Red-headed Woman
Artist: Pk Jazz Collective
Release Date: 2014 Sept 24
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Label: Southern City’s Lab
Pk Jazz Collective’s Red-headed Woman is the tenth release on Southern City’s Lab. It is supposed to mark a return to rock music after experiments with psychedelics, jazz rock and several other styles of music. I won’t disagree that the music on this release is very rock influenced, however there are other influences that can be heard throughout this release. Yet none of the influences detract from this music at all, as I will explain in this review.
Pk Jazz Collective’s Red-headed Woman
The first thing that struck me on Red-headed Woman was how much influence seems to have originated in one of my favorite acts of all time: The Doors. In fact, on ‘Outer Spase’ the electric piano lines are downright reminiscent of ‘Riders On The Storm’, and the vocalist sounds like the poetry-reciting, almost whispering voice of Jim Morrison. However, the rest of the elements of the song don’t bear direct resemblance to the Doors. The throbbing bass line, and pounding drums are definitely a more straight-ahead rock style.
And, that’s kind of the story of this release: it seems to be more of a fusion of style experiments with straight up rock elements. The marks of trance-like psychedelic vocals, or acid-jazz style organ lines, find themselves combining effortlessly with other styles reminiscent of the 60’s and 70’s. The trick to this work is balance. All of these influences are carefully balanced in these songs. No one element overwhelms the song, nor do the become watered down or minimized to the point of losing the poignancy of their style.
It’s nice to hear the attention to detail in the arrangements of these songs. The attention to the concept that the bass and drums are the rhythm section, while guitar and keyboard form the harmonic unit of the group and support the melodic elements. These are not simple imitation pieces. A lot of work has gone into making certain the style and structure of the harmonic unit sounds like a 60’s or 70’s arrangement, and yet are uniquely their own. They carefully pay homage to the past, without simply copying or imitating it.
Another point about this release is the earthy feel of the recording. These days it would be called lo-fi, but in the case of this recording it would be better thought of as being period correct. There are a lot of groups are recording older-style songs in modern arrangements with modern techniques. And there are other artists and groups that take new work and deliberately record them with lowered-fidelity to give the songs a more rustic sound. Pk Jazz Collective has struck the balance of writing songs and recording them in such a way as you might think they were actually from the 1960’s.
I mentioned that I was struck by the Doors like elements of this recording. But, more than that, I could point to a group like The Brian Jonestown Massacre as being a potential influence. BJM often used elements of 60’s and 70’s music in modern arrangements. (Hopefully PK Jazz Collective isn’t heading in the same personal issue territory that Anton Alfred Newcombe found himself in.) But no matter what (or if) these are influences, Pk Jazz Collective’s Red-headed Woman is a fun release to listen. At once for the nostalgia of the style, but also for the uniqueness of their interpretations and arrangements.