His best rambling in ages
There’s a common phrase regarding highly controversial artists saying “your mileage may vary.” Perhaps no artist has this phrase more aptly applied to them than Mark Kozelek. While he is often known as Sun Kil Moon, recent years have seen him begin to embrace his real name in a more performative, less guarded manner. This move has split the indie community into two separate camps, those wishing that Kozelek would take a little more care in his music, and those that enjoy the more open personality. Despite disagreements, his latest self-titled record Mark Kozelek is perhaps the best project post-Benji.
Since his first records, Kozelek has become famous for his propensity to ramble on his songs. Oftentimes they are recorded or at least written in an off the cuff rapid manner, allowing him to maximize his skill as a storyteller, and lay it atop his always impressive guitar playing. This latest record features the same recording process blown out as a double album, and while it’s nowhere near the length of his previous effort As Common as Light and Love are Red Valleys of Blood, it’s still a formidable hour and twenty-eight minutes long. Luckily the instrumentation on this record, most notably on opening track “This is My Town,” is much more engaging than it has been on his post-Benji work. As is often the case with Kozelek projects there aren’t standout songs so much as there are standout moments. These instances appear briefly before disappearing into the ether of rambling madness that is each of these songs. Luckily these appear frequently enough that the songs never drag on too long and his voice is monotonous enough that it only jumps out at you when necessary.
A favorite topic of Kozelek on this record is the news. This has been visited on many of his previous projects but stands out especially on the early track, “Live in Chicago,” where he discusses the shootings in both Orlando and Las Vegas and how media has actually sheltered him from reality by plying him with sports and entertainment, distracting him from the actual issues populating the world. Yet for all of this introspection, there is one moment everyone will walk away remembering from this album, and that is the entirety of “666 Post.” Most Kozelek songs are just him talking over a guitar with some sort of rhythm, and for the most part “666 Post” is no different than many others, except for one key element, it’s formatted like a children’s song. Oftentimes the song will break into a chorus repeated multiple times where he says “The oranges are yellow, the lemons are green, and the cable truck goes vroom vroom.” The subjects and adjectives change but the tuning stays the same each time leading to a truly perplexing moment on an already confounding nonlinear narrative song.
Regardless of what the world thinks of his work, there really is no one quite like Mark Kozelek. The mere idea that someone could sit and just ramble into a microphone and sell it as an album is insane, yet he manages to do it every time. Until the day he decides to turn this into a podcast, there will no doubt be fans lining up to buy his records, and so long as his diatribes remain interesting and his instrumentation improves in the ways seen on Mark Kozelek, they’d be wise to do so.