Sunday, April 4, 2010


A compilation of mostly unreleased Andrew W.K. jams from the last few years that will only serve to further confound those not indoctrinated into the man's cult of personality. For the others, the devotees, the fans, this is a treasure trove, a box of beauty and depth and unbridled positive energy and charisma. I rarely go for music this joyous and high on life but there has always been something indefinable about what Andrew W.K. is doing and i think his message is incredibly layered and nowhere near as simple as his detractors (along with most critics) make it out to be.
And that's the biggest fuck-up that the musical community has made regarding Andrew W.K. Upon first glance music this big and bombastic seems incredibly one dimensional, especially when almost all of the lyrics are devoted to partying and living life to the fullest. It seems stupid and puerile and you would never think that this is the sort of music crafted by one of the most talented and visionary composers/arrangers working in avant-metal today. People don't want to see any sort of intelligence behind this, nor think of the energy and work it must have taken to bring these things to life. I don't think "Mother of Mankind" will change that scenario for Andrew W.K., although it does offer a detailed and varied look at his musical interests, involvements and evolutions.
In the liner notes Andrew states that these songs span his entire career as "Andrew W.K." but for me it seems evident that much of the material is culled from the last few years, around the time of "Close Calls With Brick Walls" particularly. I make that assessment based on the general sonic timbre of everything-it all has the smaller, almost demo-like quality that defined "Close Calls" and only one song features the full band, "I'm A Vagabond," presumably recorded sometime after "The Wolf." There are no "I Get Wet" outtakes and nothing much from his Hanson days so it's really an overflow of ideas from the recent past. Why some of these songs never made the various albums is beyond me because they're all pretty damn awesome. I would even go so far as to say that this collection displays some of his best work. "We Party (You Shout)," "Coming Bad," and "I Will Find God" easily take their place among the ranks of Andrew's best, most fervently crazy songs, featuring all the crushingly huge guitars and gorgeous operatic gigantic melodies that we've come to expect. Other songs, like the spectacular "Jewel Street Man," revel in synthed out menace and back alley swagger, while still others such as "Who Knows?" and "The Party God" are heavenly washes of cloudy dense keyboard ambience, a precursor to the work he showcased on last year's solo piano performance "55 Cadillac." "We Got A Groove" veers in yet another direction, spotlighting Andrew's love of reggae and dub music while providing a simple vehicle for a truly skronked out noise guitar solo. Perhaps the best surprise about this album is the sheer amount of guitar solos, amazing ones at that, crammed into these songs. Andrew states that on previous albums the guitar solos were edited out-a fucking abomination because it would be ridiculously cool to hear some shredding over headbanging anthems like "Long Live The Party" or "Party Til You Puke." Most of his material is tailor-made for guitar indulgences so maybe "Mother of Mankind" seeks to make up a little for stolen opportunities. And there are some doozies here, almost all of which are played by Andrew himself. Just check out the dizzying fretwork on "Coming Bad" and "Jewel Street Man" for evidence of what this guy is capable of instrumentally. And it's not just guitar-aside from the one full band track, Andrew plays EVERY instrument on EVERY song. It's mindblowing because it's well beyond an amateur performance. Andrew W.K. is a genius, a savant, an emissary from elsewhere put here for the sole purpose of bringing amazing music into the world.
Compositionally these songs are near flawless. Every sound is in its place and serves a purpose and despite the immense amount of sounds stacked up nothing seems out of place or wasted. It all serves the song. In a certain sense i find it helpful to think of Andrew as something like an off-Broadway composer, someone akin to Andrew Lloyd Weber by way of Frank Zappa. You get the sense that a much bigger picture is being put forth as opposed to collection after collection of simple songs. As i mentioned, i'm not really sure of the message at this point-it could be something as simple as finding true joy in life (which really isn't simple at all) or it might be as complicated as quantam theory. It might be a combination of both or neither. With Andrew W.K. i'm not certain of anything other than his unbelievable talent, quiet intelligence and merciless work ethic. And the fact that this music ROCKS. Some of it makes me wanna laugh, some of it makes me wanna cry, some it makes me wanna dance and bounce around and be hyper for awhile, but it all makes me FEEL something. I can't imagine anything more important than that.

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