Renowned for Sound | Album Review: Kula Shaker – K 2.0

Published On February 28, 2016 | By Michael Smith | Albums, Music

It’s no secret that Kula Shaker toned their sound down after their return to music in 2007. While their first two albums were heavily draped with Indian influences, both Strangefolk and Pilgrims Progress opted for something more friendly to the masses, yet retaining some of their spirit in some key moments. K 2.0, however, is something of a return to form: Fittingly titled to follow the style of their 1996 debut album K, the Indian influence has found its way back, and so have Kula Shaker.

Kula Shaker Kula 2.0The heavy Indian influence on K 2.0 sits comfortably on top of its base of rock and folk music. While songs like the introductory Infinite Sun completely cover themselves with the sound of sitars and ethnic percussion, there’s an equal number of tracks that carry none of these at all. The fusion of styles is handled expertly, only rarely feeling out of place, and recalling the energy and quality of Kula Shaker’s earlier efforts. The infectious Britpop of Love B (with U) smartly relies on its riffs and looping melodies to hook listeners and Death of Democracy uses its bouncy structure to cover a more serious subject matter while retaining the catchy sound, but the likes of 33 Crows and Hari Bol mix folk and the trademark Indian flavour together to truly sell their arrangements.

Only in its final moments does the album begin to wear thin, with Get Right Get Ready and Mountain Lifter falling short of what came before; the latter ends up working better when taken in isolation, but Get Right Get Ready never really finds its groove in the first place. It makes for a slightly disappointing closing note for the album, but the strength of the preceding songs largely makes up for their weakness thanks to the different fusions of styles that appear throughout, and the album remains enjoyable regardless.

On a complete scale, K 2.0 is clearly a return to Kula Shaker’s stronger days. While its energy and content falls slightly short in comparison to K, it’s head and shoulders above the material following their comeback, and promises a far better phase of their career. The Indian influences makes their music something much more unique, and it seems they’ve realized as much, meaning fans of classic Kula Shaker are sure to love K 2.0.

4 / 5 stars

Source: Renowned for Sound | Album Review: Kula Shaker – K 2.0

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Kula Shaker Fanzine Strange Folk issue 09

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Kula Shaker: K 2.0 review – Britpop mystics back in the psychedelic saddle

★★★☆☆

Crispin Mills and co return with more sitar rock, and despite veering towards self-parody, there’s a reflective maturity here too

In 1996, Kula Shaker were one of the biggest bands in Britain, as their speedy-selling debut album, K, stormed to No 1 with a blend of 60s rocking, Britpop, Arthurian legend and Indian mysticism. Two decades on, their fifth album doesn’t journey too far from the sound of old hits such as Tattva and Govinda: it starts with a flourish of sitars, and finds frontman Crispian Mills roaring “We are one, the infinite sun”. The blond-locked frontman hasn’t lost his gift for tunes, and Holy Flame is reminiscent of Blur’s Coffee and TV. Death of Democracy is a cheery political knees-up, and the quasi-mystical Hari Bol (The Sweetest Sweet) veers towards self-parody. However, perhaps chastened by a fall from grace and spells in the wilderness, Mills also displays a reflective side, addressing his “darkest days” and “demons” with touching candour. Their big moment in the sun has long gone, but there’s enough here for an Indian summer.

Source: Kula Shaker: K 2.0 review – Britpop mystics back in the psychedelic saddle | Music | The Guardian

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ALBUM: Kula Shaker ‘K2.0’

Rating: ★★★★☆

Half way through listening to K2.0, you come to believe that perhaps, just perhaps, the Cowell-inspired hell of the past decade has been nothing more than a blip, perhaps even a bad dream from which you have just awoken, and that, blessedly, real makers of music have begun to re-emerge, stepping and blinking into the light.

Some of those players from a better, half forgotten time, have returned to make the music they love. So it is with this, their fifth album, that Kula Shaker saunter back into view on the Strangefolk label. And they’ve brought their sitars with them.

For anyone who liked the give-a-damn amped-up Indic funk of ‘Govinda’ (1996, and the only British Top 10 hit to be sung entirely in Sanskrit), there is much pleasure to be found on this new record as the band, led by Crispian Mills, has come up with an 11-track long player that dives deeper into their own compelling fusion of subcontinental beats and Anglo Saxon folk-rock.

Having enjoyed the fast ride that was the Britpop wave almost two decades ago (and getting the Gallagher nod of approval along the way), Kula Shaker has always been too accomplished a band to bother with the fickle demands of the music industry. This year, therefore, they step back into the limelight with a clutch of classically inspired tunes. ‘Infinite Sun’ – an obvious choice for a single – invokes the spirit of arguably the most tasteful of the Fab Four: Mr Harrison. An eminently danceable song with a textured production, it leaves in all the flavoursome rough edges and changes gears several times, but hooks you nonetheless. Like all the best pop, it catches you in the right places.

On K2.0, Mills – as modern-day ‘kirtankara’ (a performer of call and response chanting) – happily reveals his continued interest in Indian polyrhythms, his much-loved mantras evident on ‘Oh Mary’, ‘Hari Bol’ and ’33 Crows’. Tracks like ‘Holy Flame’ provide further evidence of the band’s love of late-Sixties rock fusion not a million miles away from the sound made by Traffic, while ‘Let Love B (with U)’, ‘Here Come My Demons’ and ‘Get Right Get Ready’ provide ample proof that these boys can play with the best of them.

“This album took us a bit by surprise because nobody realised it had been 20 years since we started,” Mills has said in a recent interview. So again, it’s a case of musicians at once indulging and surprising themselves, with Mills’ nasal intonations now evoking an ageing Lennon. The band guilelessly wears its influences on its sleeve. There’s gallows humour (‘Death of Democracy’) and muscle (‘Mountain Lifter’) in equal measure on this record. It’s the sound of players fluidly reasserting themselves. It’s a very welcome return, and with the recent news that fellow Nineties luminary Richard Ashcroft is also getting back into the studio and out onto the road, let’s hope K2.0 marks the beginning of a renaissance for the British mainstream. It’s about time.

K2.0 is released on 12th February via StrangeF.O.L.K LLP

Source: ALBUM: Kula Shaker ‘K2.0’ – GigslutzGigslutz

Published in: on 11/02/2016 at 20:20  Leave a Comment  
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ALBUM REVIEW: Kula Shaker – K2.0

★★★★☆

Cod-spiritual NME punchbags Kula Shaker are back with the sequel to their début album K, a scant two decades later (there have been releases since then, but nobody noticed). It might even go some way to dispelling their longstanding reputation as sniggersome opportunists, because K2.0 is actually rather good.

As the obligatory sitar twangs into life one fears the worst of 90s tie-dyed pseudo-ethnicity is about to make a comeback, but the collection soon blossoms into a remarkably varied collection of mature songwriting.

Holy Flame sounds like young pretenders to the retro throne Temples; Death Of Democracy remarkably turns the Greek financial crisis into a hummable tune; High Noon is a hokey but convincing spaghetti western rip-off. Crispian’s back!

 

Source: ALBUM REVIEW: Kula Shaker – K2.0 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Kula Shaker Interview

It’s been 20 years since Kula Shaker dropped ‘K’ back in 1996, an album that was tuned into the britpop zeitgeist, selling 2 million copies. Something that is referenced in the title of their fifth album, ‘K2.0′, something which Kula Shaker front man Crispian Mills describes as a highlights of the various styles they have done to date, from the psychedelic sound of ‘K’, to the folksier elements of their last album 2010′s ‘Pilgrims Progress’. Over our 20 minute conversation with Crispian, who was then suffering with a bad cold, in addition to chatting about the new album, we touched on his preference for analog equipment and why he thinks it would be more interesting of successful bands should took more risks.

Why did you decide to call the record ‘K2.0′?

Crispian Mills: Well because it’s 20 years since ‘K’, and ‘K’ was our first album and our career defining album, and I think 20 years is a good time to look back and see where you’ve come and where you’re going. It’s actually sprung out of an joke where we were thinking of calling an album ‘K2′ , and putting the mountain on the front of the album cover, K2 is on the album cover now, in illustrated form on the back. But ‘K2.0′ looks like K20 and seems to make sense in this age of software updates and built in obsolescence.

I haven’t heard the album yet, but what you’ve released so far seems a bit less stripped back compared to your previous album. How would you describe the sound of the record?

Crispian Mills: 2010′s ‘Pilgrims Progress’ was an album we’re very proud of, and it was a great pleasure to make, and we felt like we were finally in control of the recording process. Recording a rock band is not easy, its difficult thing to get right, it’s very hard to capture energy and atmosphere and it takes a lot of experience and we have had some good results in the past, but on the whole we always felt like we were still learning, and still wrestling with the medium. So ‘Pilgrims Progress’ came together with the sounds, and the music led the way. And it was much more folksy, and the songs had a lot more focus. I think on this album ‘K2.0′, its highlights of what we have done to date, so there are elements of ‘Pilgrims Progress’, but there is highlights from ‘K’ and other albums we have made like ‘Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts’, and things like that.

On your Facebook page you have posted up pictures of analogue mixing desks, do you have a preference for analog over digital?

Crispian Mills: Yes I do, a lot of people who have a lot of experience in a studio, have said rock n roll sounds better when it goes through valves and analog gears. I’m not entirely sure why it does, but it’s one of those mysteries of nature, and if you can get your hands on a nice pre amp, and things like that, it can help the sound of your band. There are a lot of people who say they don’t know the difference between digital plug ins and pre-amps, but when you put it together and the different layers of sound, the end result is better.

Yeah I’ve been reading John Fogerty’s autobiography, in it he describes how analog tape is preferable because saturates better than digital.

Crispian Mills: Yes exactly, this the thing with saturation, and the sound breaking up is very attractive, and this is the sound of rock n roll, it’s the sound of being right on the edge. You can do it with digital, but you have to do it afterwards as an effect, and you have to cheat, and its became something of a cosmetic contrivance. There are bands out there are using Pro Tools and Logic and doing great things with it, but even people like Mark Ronson, or whatever. They chop their beats on the computer, but you bet your ass he’s got a lot of valve gear, so his band and instruments, his vocals are all sounding like they’ve got that saturation, they’ve got that warmth.

I can remember chatting with a musician who reckoned the best thing they ever heard was vinyl through tube amps.

Crispian Mills: There’s a fantastic mastering facility in Taunton, one of the best ears in the business, John Dent who used to be based in London, but now he’s got his own studio in Taunton. Sometimes to really rub salt in the wound, he’ll play an album he mastered, like Bob Marley or something, on vinyl through his valve gear, and you’ll just hear that space and sound, and then he’ll play what it sounds like on digital, and you’ll just want to walk outside and shoot yourself, it’s just another universe. We’ve lost a lot and you can understand why people like Neil Young were complaining when they brought CD’s in, because we’ve lost some of the sonic range now, but hey, were coping.

Is that the guy who runs Loud Mastering?

Crispian Mills: Yeah that it.

He’s mastered PJ Harvey’s last record and those King Crimson reissues.

Crispian Mills: He’s a legend, especially a west country legend, so anybody working west of Swindon knows John Dent.

You recently dabbled in film making (2010′s ‘A Fantastic Fear of Everything’), is that something you have wanted to pursue further.

Crispian Mills: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve always been involved in film in one way or another, ‘Fantastic Fear’ was the first film that I got made, but I’ve been writing films for years and years and years, films in development they say, which kind of like is like they’ve been chained in up in a dungeon. Films take a long, long time, I’m sure I’ll make another film at some point , and It’ll get released from the dungeon.

I think the downside with working in film is the whole politics surrounding the business.

Crispian Mills: Yes absolutely, script development takes a long time. The first draft of the script is the first step on a long road to what you end up shooting, but raising money for a film is horrific. If you’re raising money independently, you have to create a patchwork quilt of different investment, it takes a lot of time and people let you down, people waste your time as well, and you need to find a road through the jungle. It’s a miracle any film gets made, and it’s a miracle that the film is any good at the end of it. There’s so many twists and turns and the pressure to compromise.

Douglas Adams once described the film making process as like trying to cook a burger on a barbecue with two people blowing on it.

Crispian Mills: (laughs) Yeah, I know it. Especially of your a writer and you’re used to writing alone and you’re creating a whole universe, you know where you’re in charge and you’re a part of a team, and there’s more than two people blowing on the burger, there’s hundreds, from the weather, to the amount of time you’ve got left, the amount of time you get, to interference from executives. Some people work well in a team and take the best of that environment, but it takes a long time. I think that was Stanley Kubrick’s only real regret about his career, is that he wished they didn’t take so bloody long to make.

Do you have any regrets when it comes to your career in music?

Crispian Mills: Never really played it like a career, I’ve just been a little too idealistic, maybe even naïve to exploit music in that way. Music is very close to my heart and I always wanted to make music for the right reasons, and I always didn’t like people who were focussed on their career that they never put a foot wrong, it’s so calculated. People like Madonna, for instance, you can appreciate they are good and respect them for that, but I didn’t like this calculated approach to a career in the arts. I prefer people who do it for slightly pure reasons, the reason I left the band in late 1999 because I was losing my soul, and the reason is I wasn’t happy, or feeling the love or the joy and I wanted to give it a break. Through the ten years in Kula Shaker, we have taken back that power and being master of your own fate.

I know success can destroy bands and things get expected of them, and they forget the whole purpose of why they doing it.

Crispian Mills: What you talking about is easy, because it happens to very young people, who don’t know who they are yet. And they don’t have the experience, and they’ve it happens to be people that have never been through that before, your being exploited. You’re going into a high pressure business, if you’re insecure (and most artists are insecure) then the success makes you more insecure, ironically it doesn’t give you a sense of being grounded, it makes you think “why is this happening, I don’t understand why this is happening.” It all gets a bit neurotic, you just need to take some time out, and not worry about your career too much and have a life.

Your second album ‘Peasant Pigs and Astronauts’ had quite a troubled genesis, wasn’t there quite a lot of scrapped recordings?

Crispian Mills: There wasn’t lots of scrapped records, it just went on a long time, and we got sued by our manager in the middle of it, and somebody else was ripping us off, and we couldn’t find the right producer, and it goes on like that. It turned out really good, it wasn’t very commercial, it was like a psychedelic magnum opus, a grandiose, rock opera, I think more pop bands should do outrageous follow ups when they have a big hit, the world would be a bit more interesting. It was a very long process, and a very expensive process, no one would tell us how much it cost until the very end when we fell off our chair. I think I did fall off my chair.

Some bands I’ve encountered have said when they got money from labels, they thought it was a fluke, and just took the money and run.

Crispian Mills: We always said that most bands spend their money on cars and drugs and living the good life, and we just spent it on our album, and we spent all our money and we got something out of it and we also gave something to our fans. It wasn’t the commercial success at the same level of ‘K’, it sold about 300,000, which was considered a bit of a failure after ‘K’s 2million, in the UK. The truth is that the album created the real hardcore fan base that has stayed with us for years, and even more so than ‘K’.

One last question, you’re going on tour soon, what’s the thing you like best about touring?

Crispian Mills: That’s what we are as a live band, before we are recording artist and people who make albums. Even before song writing, we are a live band. Playing live it’s the consummation of the writing and the recording. The process isn’t complete until you’ve played it live.

Words by Matthew Shearn.

K2.0 is out the 12th of Febuary via Strange Folk

Kula Shaker are playing the following dates this month.

Feb 13th Pavillion theatre, Worthing
Feb 15th O2 ABC, Glasgow
Feb 16th O2 Ritz Manchester
Feb 17th Roundhouse,London

via Kula Shaker Interview – Figure8Magazine

ALBUM REVIEW: KULA SHAKER – K2.0

London’s 60’s revivalists, Kula Shaker, are set to release K2.0, their first album in almost 6 years on 12th February. The album title seems to be a play on 1996’s K 20 years on, but is the album set to be a celebration of that career or something new?

Opening with a sitar, indian rhythm and droning vocals “We are one, the infinite sun, fly like an eagle” on Infinite Sun, it’s immediately obvious that you’re listening to Kula Shaker. The track is instantaneously infectious, wonderfully psychedelic and has a familiar feel (perhaps due to it’s similarity to Strangefolk’s Song of Love/Narayana). Following this is Holy Flame, the verse of which is reminiscent of Blur’s Coffee & TV but with a soaring and upbeat piano-rock chorus. The more closely you listen, the more upbeat 90’s Brit-pop styling you can hear flowing through out K2.0. There’s even a little bit of the noughts in there with a Zutons-esque vocal lurking in Let Love B (With You).

As expected, the lyrics are often abstract, but also observational and witty. A great example of the latter is country ditty, 33 Crows which brings forth a wry smile from the outset. It is a satyrical story which looks at a past relationship where an omen “33 crows in the middle of the road, that’s when my heart said no” convinces the narrator not to move in with their partner. The line “you might end up with no-one to call a friend, unless they are canine, or equine” had me chuckling to myself which, in public wearing headphones necessitated a prompt but unsuccessful attempt to hide behind my notebook to avoid bemused looks!

There’s little to dislike about the album, the only thing for me was a cliché stab at Christianity in Oh Mary and the random hippy sound-bites (which sound a lot like Billy Connolly minus a few F words). As we’re talking about a 60’s revival act here I guess that clichés may be somewhat irrelevant but talking about not being able to make it to space on a bus or space-rocket but going there in your mind is abstract at best!

Going back to that long stretch since 2000’s Pilgrim’s Progress, it’s obvious that long periods between albums is nothing new to Crispian and Co. as this is only their 5th LP in their 20 year career. Fortunately, this method yields quality over quantity yet again. Kula Shaker have done what they do best with K2.0 and produced an infinitely likeable collection of upbeat and happy psychedelic Brit-pop numbers. It’s a good egg but whether this will fly among the droves of 90’s act comeback albums it’s hard to tell however, I reckon K2.0 stands as good a chance as any I’ve heard of late.

Source: ALBUM REVIEW: KULA SHAKER – K2.0

Published in: on 10/02/2016 at 21:54  Comments Off on ALBUM REVIEW: KULA SHAKER – K2.0  
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Listen to the new album now!!

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Watch the video for new single ‘Infinite Sun’

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