Escape From Society....
Sometimes we all just need to get away...
The latest offering of this multi-talented instrumentalist and vocalist is an eclectic mix of tunes that are somehow how part Frank Zappa and part Woody Guthrie but with some intriguing improvisational sensibilities tossed into the mix for a beat nik chic vibe that is incredibly infectious. It is far too easy if not inherently unfair for a critic to label an artist so the passage below is from Kulik's web site and how he views himself:
"I think of myself as a trombonist, though I play an increasing number of other instruments pretty decently. The trombone is the instrument that I play every day and can usually count on to best express myself with. However, as the Frank Zappa saying goes, “you can’t write a chord ugly enough to say what you want sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream.”
O.K. I don't get it but the beauty of Sam Kulik is that you do not have to. I have often written words like "organic" and "eclectic" have been used to the point that they have lost true meaning. Kulik is a searching artist, an open book with chapters still unfinished. Sam Kulik is the prototype of a searching artist. A work in progress. There is something oddly refreshing about Kulik who sidesteps the main stream contemporary musical market with ease.
So who does Sam Kulik sound like? Kulik who has worked with Levon Helm is a slightly more unplugged version of Helm with a lyrical sense of humor that has you on the edge of your seat wondering where he is either coming from or what he could be planning on saying next.
Again the best way to describe Kulik is to allow him the freedom to do a riff on himself - from his web site:
This band is inspired by the song-poem phenomenon of the ’70s and ’80s, in which everyday people would respond to magazine ads seeking lyricists. Random songwriters would then write and record songs with the received lyrics, and the demo-quality recordings that resulted are fascinating. For this band, I advertised on craigslist and wrote songs for the lyrics that were sent to me. “Escape From Society” is a title borrowed from a classic song-poem sung by Ron Davis, chosen because of the general vibe in a lot of the lyrics I got about wanting things to be different, or wanting to get out of a situation that isn’t going right. Music, as I see it, is also an escape from society for a lot of people because of the subjective, personal experience of listening. The same is true for me as a player and performer as the normal parts of my brain sort of shut off as I get deeper into the music.
For me, this is about as far outside my musical comfort zone as one could possibly get but the raw edge to his approach to the song/poem phenomenon is a refreshing change of pace. The band is first rate, the arrangements while open ended are played with a sense of purpose and urgency.
Every fiber of my musical being tells me I should hate this recording...I simply can't. The work of an artist that fully understands who he is and is completely comfortable with where he is going. We should all be so lucky.
In terms of highlights, there are far too many to list. Musical satire and sarcasm set to a delightful soundtrack to Kulik's life story.
Tracks: Thank You; Last Train To Paradise; More Than Your Dog; So You Want To Be A Slug; Middle Of Nowhere; Bellarthur An Albino; South Philly Daze; Amy's Song; The Winter Storm; I Flip My Rhythms; Ten Little Indians; Tres Dedos Marron; The Verge; Infinite Shit.
Personnel: Sam Kulik: vocals, brass & guitar; Moppa Elliott: bass on "Infinite Shit"; On The Verge - Tom Blancarte: bass; Jeremiah Cymerman: clarinet; Amie Weiss: violin.
On the rest of Escape From Society: Kyle Forester: bass & keys; Ian Antoni: drums; Matt Nelson: saxophone.