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.