King Black Acid - "Loves A Long Song"
(Cavity Search Records 2000, CSR 48)
From Aural Innovations #12 (September 2000)
King Black Acid and the Womb Star Orchestra released three CD's in as many years on Cavity Search and then, as far as the general global public was concerned, seemed to disappear. But since their last album, Royal Subjects, was released in 1997, King Black Acid have been active on the Portland, Oregon club scene and have long since evolved into King Black Acid and the Starseed Transmission. Regular concert reports and photographs from Action Man have kept the Aural Innovations offices abreast of this wonderful band's activities.
Despite the name change, including several band members, King Black Acid is still the brainchild of guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Daniel John Riddle. The promo sheet for Loves A Long Song points out that 'the new album demonstrates an increasing focus on the craft of pop songwriting employing lush vocal hooks, interweaving guitars and tantric keyboard melodies'. This is an accurate description. There is more of a focus on pop songwriting. But the second part of this statement describing the music is equally true. And I'm reminded of a comment Riddle made when interviewed in Aural Innovations #6:
"The last time I did an interview they asked me why I was doing these long songs and what it was I was looking for and my answer was y'know, I guess I'm still sort of looking for the perfect 18 minute pop song".
While Riddle doesn't quite reach the 18 minute mark on this album the pop element is in no way explored at the expense of the music. King Black Acid clearly have their own sound, but for a frame of reference the music and songs fit firmly into that magical mold that Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" and Porcupine Tree's "Sky Moves Sideways" did.
Among the album's highlights is "Butterfly Bomber". Long a staple of the King Black Acid live show, "Butterfly Bomber" epitomizes Riddle's search for the 'long' pop song. It's got a catchy tune, melodic vocal harmonies, and floating guitar passages, but also blazing sonic wall of sound guitar jams that crush the listener's brain, but just as quickly massag it back into a mode that's ready for expansion. "Kiss The Beast" has a melodic and accessible, yet trippy Pink Floyd sound. Very much like "Breath". "Into The Sun" gets my vote for the band's hit single. "I've Heard You're Still Alive" features more heavy crunching guitars as well as slow but gorgeously melodic solos, tripped out singing licks, and Daniel's passionate vocals. And at 12 minutes the song takes plenty of time to soar into a cosmic space guitar heaven. "Born To Sleep" is a dreamy space guitar and synth instrumental. Very much like Porcupine Tree's "Sky Moves Sideways". And "Gentle Collapse (Feels Good)" is one of the tracks that reminded me of Dark Side Of The Moon. It's got a trippy funky feel that I love, and soulful female backup vocals.
In summary, the years without a full length release have clearly been a time of growth for King Black Acid. If this is what pop music is about then the masses better watch out because they're about to consume something with substance. And one thing it shares in common with the earlier CD's... it really FEELS good. Check it out.
Loves A Long Song is distributed by Cavity Search Records. You can visit their web site.
Contact via snail mail at PO Box 42246; Portland, OR 97242
You can also visit King Black Acid at their own web site.