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New Music Tuesday: Ryley Walker & Kikagaku Moyo
'Deep Fried Grandeur' is a crispy freeform journey
A few years ago, I celebrated my birthday with a few friends at a Ryley Walker show. It was at Globe Hall, a terrific local spot with a small capacity. After a handful of beers, my buddy decided to yell “RICHARD DREYFUSS” at Walker, who was in an all-denim getup with a bucket hat. Walker chuckled and responded with “never heard that one” before jumping right back into the jams.
Ryley Walker has been one of my favorite musicians of the last half-decade. Having started as a Village Troubadour™ with his debut All Kinds of You and stronger follow up Primrose Green, the Chicago songwriter has grown by embracing his live shows' psychedelic feel. His 2018 album Deafman Glance is Walker’s most robust work and does a great job at walking the line between folk and psychedelia.
Deep Fried Grandeur is the newest in Walker’s series of experimental live collaboration releases, featuring the excellent Japanese psych band Kikagaku Moyo and Walker’s touring band. Taken from an improved 2018 set from the Le Guess Who? Festival in Utrecht, the combination makes for the best yet in his collaboration run.
Consisting of only two tracks, this time capsule clocks in at almost 40 minutes but breezes by effortlessly. “Pour Dampness Down the Stream” starts with a guitar sketch that sets the atmosphere, and just when you’re about ready to hit the bathroom and grab another beer, the full band kicks in with an absolute face melter that could be a sibling of “The Other One.” (While the Venn Diagram does intersect, there is a difference between Deadheads and Wooks.)
On “Shrinks the Day,” sitar combines with guitars, with different melodies meshing like a tree of birds before turning into a full-blown noise freakout. Both tracks are more movements than a traditional song and demand repeat listens to fully appreciate how Ryley Walker and Kikagaku Moyo pulled this off with the personnel having never played together before.
Besides Walker and Kikagaku Moyo, producer Cooper Crain (of the band Cave) deserves recognition for mixing everything down in post following the show. There is no evidence of this being a live record - a crowd is not heard, and every instrument, no matter how many, is leveled and heard.
After writing about the importance of Bandcamp and Bandcamp Fridays, I’m also happy to see this:
Deep Fried Grandeur is available via Husky Pants Records.
What’s the shreddiest face melter you’ve seen at a show? Let me know in the comments!
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