The Red Krayola, Fingerpainting (Drag City)

Posted December 31st, 1998 by admin

The Red Krayola
Drag City
By: Eric G.

The Red Krayola prides itself on being uncategorizable, and that, in and of itself, is an impressive feat for a band that’s evolved through three decades and countless line-up changes. The only original member to sustain all of the band’s incarnations, though, is Mayo Thompson, whose predictably unpredictable approach to composition continues to push the envelope of what is or is not “music.” Sometimes Thompson’s adventures veer into an esoteric land that only noise freaks and pretentious wankers would claim to enjoy, but, I must say, it is never boring.

Fingerpainting is a fairly involved experiment, featuring a slew of musical luminaries (including ex-Squirrel Bait and ex-Gastr Del Sol guitarist David Grubbs), wherein Thompson has dug up some of the band’s oldest songs predating the first LP, The Parable Of Arable Land, and had the current line-up record them while mixing tapes of the band’s previous incarnations together with it. The result is a fair share stranger than it sounds. Drum machines pound way too loud while the band clinks and clanks its way through a countrified melange of ‘songs’, explosive noiseburts, and an all around bizarre racket.

The music seems to randomly ebb and flow. The group will fall to pieces at strange intervals, which is disarming when your ear is trained to expect certain cadences and climaxes. The songs are tracked individually but untitled. Thompson’s fragile voice nervously shuffles along with the jangly yet distant guitars, bringing the Velvet Underground to mind. This is not the kind of music you can stop and come back to later in the middle; it’s almost certainly a one shot deal- you either sit through it all in one listen or you don’t bother at all, and depending on your tolerance for badly produced free form freakouts you’ll either be consumed or enraged.

Tags: review