Many people file King Cobb Steelie in the â€œWhere are they now?â€ file. However, a more appropriate filing should be â€œWhat could have been.â€ Al Okada knows this filing system all too well. In his seven years as a founding member of King Cobb Steelie, Okada had the esteemed pleasure of working with seminal producers such as Bill Laswell and Steve Albini. Furthermore, KCSâ€™s Project Twinkle was nominated for a Juno in 1994 for Best Alternative Album.
Fans of Okada didnâ€™t have to wait long for the release of new material; in 2001 he collaborated with Tamara Williamson under the Microbunny moniker. Gigging like crazy and getting their music out on a variety of television programs, including â€˜ZeDâ€™ and â€˜The Shield,â€™ things were definitely looking up for Microbunny. Now, with the release of 49 Swans, their latest full-length, the future is looking ever more promising for Okada and Microbunny.
49 Swans is a record that must be felt as much as it needs to be heard. Itâ€™s a warm, inviting listen, full of patient, emotive harmonies that evoke as many images of soft sunsets as it does harsh, invigorating winters. Electronically-heavy but never overwhelming, 49 Swans draws influence from the mechanical beauty of Portishead and the evocative undertones of classic, lounge-room jazz. Consider â€˜Blue September Blues,â€™ easily one of 49 Swans standout tracks. Here, the haunting vocal stylings of Rebecca Campbell seduce listeners, drawing attention to the deft players behind her, working their way through a dream-jazz tune as big as this very country itself.
But itâ€™s not all lofty tracks. Okada gets back to his roots on the opener, â€˜Gravity and Air,â€™ a loose, grunge-influenced track that is as nimble as it is powerful. Records like 49 Swans arenâ€™t for the faint of heart; this is a record which one must make time for. But surely, listeners will be rewarded tenfold for their efforts. â€˜Voodoo Slippersâ€™ features some eclectic use of electronics, while â€˜Evergrowing Rust on a 1967 Corvairâ€™ looms with the threat of the monster under the bed that we all hoped never existed. Finally, â€˜Embersâ€™ is an aptly titled track, as the rich percussion and twisted, bluesy guitars will linger long after its last listen.
Donâ€™t write 49 Swans off as an electronica record, however. Okada plays all the instruments on the record, opting for real time spontaneity. He adhered to his ethics; Okada only used analogue instruments and source samples available that pre-dated the â€œDigital age.â€ Computer technology was only used as a means to capture, edit and mix 49 Swans. Bearing these factors in mind, one begins to appreciate what an immense accomplishment the album really is. Itâ€™s one that haunts, persists, inspires. But mostly, it stays, and cements the importance of Al Okada as an artist.
For music and more info please visit: www.microbunny.com and www.myspace.com/microbunnymusic
Toronto CD Release Party:
Friday, April 2nd, 2010 @ The Rivoli
Microbunny w/ Mean Red Spiders and Huelepega Sound Sound System
DJ David Dacks + General Chaos Visuals
$10 or $15 w/CD