Home / Overlooked Alternatives August 8, 2006: Kaki King, Porcupine Tree, Slayer

Overlooked Alternatives August 8, 2006: Kaki King, Porcupine Tree, Slayer

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One young artist matures, another looks back at his past and sees a chance to give it new life, and one band finds its pieces back together again . . .

Kaki King – Until We Were Red: On her previous two albums, King showed off some incredible and unusual guitar skills that were obviously inspired by Michael Hedges and Preston Reed, but seemed to come up a bit short on the compositional end of things. Judging from the clips available on her Myspace page, that issue may be a thing of the past – instead of relying on chops, she's progressed to wowing the listener with what she can do with a song. Thrill Jockey label hero John McEntire (a member of Tortoise and the Sea and Cake) was called in to produce the disc, which should result in some interesting sonics to go along with King's music and, now, lyrics (her previous album featured one song with lyrics, but she was predominantly known for her instrumental material.)

Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dream (Remixed and Remastered): Perhaps the last Porcupine Tree album to perfectly balance the mix of Pink Floyd spaciness and metal crunch, it's safe for me to say this 1999 album is one of my "all-time favorites of all time," and is the one that really sealed Porcupine Tree's fate with me. It's being reissued now after a long time having been out of production, for some strange reason, but not in its original form.

Instead of simply remastering the disc, PT main-man Steven Wilson has opted to go back to the master tapes and remix the album not only for the typical stereo CD but also for the accompanying DVD-A disc, which includes bonus tracks. There's a catch, unfortunately: you have to have a DTS-compatible player to play this disc, including said bonus tracks. Wilson's prowess as a musician is as warranted as his growing reputation as producer – the results on each disc should be worth hearing for both fans and newbies alike.

Also of interest to Porcupine Tree fans is the opening of their new online download store, which features an incredible 2005 show in full that is only available there.

Slayer – Christ Illusion: I can't say that my only interest in Slayer is drummer Dave Lombardo, but I can say that my interest in them waned when he left the band after Seasons In The Abyss. And now that he's back in the band, they've created another sickeningly intense ball of fury that blows away anything they've done since he left. Well, I'll leave that to you to decide, but the consensus by and large seems to be the same: Slayer sounds rejuvenated, as if the 15 years between those two albums have been erased, and the gap in time is made even less noticeable by the return of artist Larry Carroll who created the artwork for Abyss. Whether you like it or not remains to be seen – there's always this ridiculous and hilariously censored version of the artwork available if you somehow love Slayer, but are offended by the artwork:

Be sure and check out Blogcritics Chris Beaumont's great review.

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About Tom Johnson

  • i really liked that first Kaki King record. what a bizarre style of playing (if you’ve seen the video, that is)

  • I liked it too, but I found that it kind of wore itself out with me, Mark. I’ve tried giving it listens lately to see if I just wasn’t in the mood, but other than “Ingots” and “Playing With Pink Noise” (the song/video you mention – I also saw her play that on Letterman, which is something to see live) nothing really grabs me anymore. I’m hoping that this new album has more to offer for the long run, because the clips sound like she’s developed more in the “Ingots” direction, which I think is a good thing.

  • I have never even heard of Kaki King. I might have to look her up on MySpace.

  • Guppusmaximus

    “the accompanying DVD-A disc, which includes bonus tracks… you have to have a DTS-compatible player to play this disc”

    Any DVD player will work….But, I will definitely check it out.

    As for Slayer’s Latest… It’s right up to par if not better than “Seasons..”. (Here comes Debbie Downer…)But, It still doesn’t touch “South of Heaven”(Wah-Wah)

  • Nope, sorry Guppus, you have to have a DTS-capable DVD player in order to access the bonus tracks. This has been confirmed by the folks on the Porcupine Tree forum. They are surround-sound only tracks – no stereo-only versions are available on the disc. I can’t link to the thread on the forum because it’s closed to outsiders, but this is quoted from there pertaining to the bonus tracks being playable in standard stereo on a regular DVD player:

    Please Note – Playing this way – you WILL NOT be able to access the extra tracks on Stupid Dream because they are ONLY in Surround sound.

    To hear Stupid Dream the way Wilson truly intended it, however, DTS is not enough. You need, and I quote again from the forum, High Resolution, Lossless (MLP) DVD-A Surround Sound. This is the only way that you will be able to hear this album the correct way – mere “High Resolution DVD-A Stereo” also does not play the DVD-A as intended, either. This is one demanding surround-sound disc! (Glad I won’t be bothering with anything past the plain ol’ stereo CD!)

  • ok, two purchases for me this evening. the new Slayer…which is indeed brutal. the other is at the opposite extreme of the brutality scale, folk singer Greg Brown’s The Evening Call.

  • Guppusmaximus

    Tom, what you mentioned in your previous post and the article are two different things…That’s why I got confused. I’m pretty sure, that an HD DVD player or one that can handle SACD should do the trick but I can look into it further. If you ever have the opportunity to set up a system for this type of DVD audio, you won’t be disappointed. It’s almost like being there.

  • Guppusmaximus


    Actually any DVD player that can handle SACD should be able to play this DVD. Which, if you’re not buying the cheap models(Mintek,Memorex,etc)then any DVD player should work. I know Panasonic has a relitively inexpensive model that should do the trick but you still need to have the surround sound set up to get the full effect.

    It’s been awhile since I played around with this stuff because I don’t have the funds to set up a system like that. The last DVD Audio Disc that I listened to was Steely Dan “Everything Must Go”.

    Wikipedia does an excellent job of explaining DVD-A