KEVIN GODLEY – Muscle Memory

The state51 Conspiracy 2020

KEVIN GODLEY –
Muscle Memory

After fifty years of communal melody-making, British maven of adorable quirks comes up with his first solo album – to amaze them all.

This artist has always been a high priest of tuneful collage – whether it was with 10CC, in the company of Lol Creme or with THE BEATLES whose video for “Real Love” Kevin Godley co-directed – but he never indulged his own creative idiosyncrasy. Until the veteran asked the whole wild world to send him their musical ideas for songs, ended up with close to 300 submissions, fleshed those out, and released piece’s of the entire puzzle – every two weeks, from July 16th to December 3rd, 2002. On the initial spin, the results of such an approach can confuse Godley’s fans, while aficionados should rejoice at the usual unexpectedness of it all, because there are no straightforward songs per se – there are captivating mosaics.

“One day there will be no new music,” Godley gloomily posits here, yet, from the electronic raga drone of opener “Expecting A Message” where Kevin buries his vocals under a heap of otherworldly effects before hilariously resurfacing on a stereo-busting reggae wave and delving into heavy dub, to the strings-drenched, folk-tinctured finale of “Bulletholes In The Sky” which suggests rubber bullets” might have never left Kevin’s earshot; they just feel different. He doesn’t mince words on the likes of “Cut To The Cat” when there’s a need for an attack on social issues, and doesn’t shy away from contemplating our dark reality in “All Bones Are White” – another rhythm-driven number to show the caring, not detached, artist who will ask for help, rather than proselytize, in the solemn “Periscope”: a hymn to hope.

Typically for this composer, the languid and aloof “The Ghosts Of The Living” sets anxiety right in the heart of its flamenco-flavored, spectral soundscape, given a touch of celestial chorale – Godley’s God-praising light lament, that could be his last will and testament, too. Still, if the anti-violence dance “The Bang Bang Theory” comes across as an elegant testament to Kevin’s love of naked groove and old-timey jive, and the compromised balladry of “5 Minutes Alone” taps into moist-eyed nostalgia, the piano-laden and woodwind-washed “Hit The Street” offers a morbid meditation on mortality and martyrdom as well. And of course, Godley wouldn’t be Godley had he not made the catchy epic “Song Of Hate” the most romantic, and sarcastic, acoustically breathing track on this record – the best psychedelic opus of recent years.

Five decades on since Kevin started surprising the listener, he only became more skillful at throwing delights at them. It’s muscle memory, after all.

*****

February 17, 2021

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