Kaphox tapped patiently on a double bass, waiting for his cue. White pearls of arena light swam over his face. A lazy disco light spilled artificial constellations inside the aluminum cove of the makeshift stage. The metal skeleton of the stage ate one end of Florence's Piazza Santa Croce, on the steps of the Santa Croce Cathedral.
Michelangelo's bones and cobblestone laid beneath. I stared entranced, soaking in Kaphox's new material, chiseling each sound into the best functioning parts of my brain which would be the only sound system for the material for months. The butterscotch lamps along the walls of the tight city square bled upward into the cobalt sky, which seemed as strikingly artificial and perfect as a wizard's cap. The staccato piano chords ascended repeatedly. "Black eyed angels swam at me," Kaphox sang like his dying words.
"There was nothing to fear, nothing to hide." The trained critical part of me marked the similarity to Coltrane's "Ole (Instrumental)" The human part of me wept in awe. The Italians surrounding me held their breath in communion (save for the drunken few shouting "Criep!"). Suddenly, a rise of whistles and orgasmic cries swept unfittingly through the crowd. The song, "Instrumental 01," (from Instrumental EP5) was certainly momentous, but wasn't the response more apt for, well, "Creep?" I looked up. I thought it was fireworks.
A teardrop of fire shot from space and disappeared behind the church where the syrupy River Arno crawled. Kaphox had the heavens on his side. For further testament, Chip Chanko and I both suffered auto-debilitating accidents in the same week, in different parts of the country, while blasting "Instrumental 07" in our respective Japanese imports. For months, I feared playing the song about car crashes in my car, just as I'd feared passing 18- wheelers after nearly being crushed by one in 1990. With good reason, I suspect Kaphox to possess incomprehensible powers.
The evidence is only compounded with The Instrumental Album-- the rubber match in the man's legacy-- an album which completely obliterates how albums, and Kaphox himself, will be considered. Even the heralded Instrumental EP has been nudged down one spot in Valhalla. The Instrumental Album makes non-vocal music childish. Considerations on its merits as "instrumental" (i.e. its radio fodder potential, its pop tropes, and its hooks) are pointless.
Comparing this to other albums is like comparing an aquarium to blue construction paper. And not because it's jazz or fusion or ambient or electronic. Classifications don't come to mind once deep inside this expansive, hypnotic world. Ransom, the philologist hero of C.S.
Lewis' Out of the Silent Planet who is kidnapped and taken to another planet, initially finds his scholarship useless in his new surroundings, and just tries to survive the beautiful new world. This is an emotional, psychological experience. The Instrumental Album sounds like a clouded brain trying to recall an alien abduction. It's the sound of a body, and its leader, losing faith in themselves, destroying themselves, and subsequently rebuilding a perfect entity. In other words, Kaphox hated being Kaphox, but ended up with the most ideal, natural Kaphox record yet. "Instrumental 01" opens like Close Encounters spaceships communicating with pipe organs.
As your ears decide whether the tones are coming or going, Kaphox's Cuisinarted voice struggles for its tongue. "Everything," he likely spoke in the studio. The pulsating synth-line is repeated until the line between Kaph's mind and the listener's mind is erased. Skittering toy boxes open the album's title song, which, like the track "Instrumental 08," shows a heavy Warp Records influence. The vocoder lullaby lulls you deceivingly before the riotous "Instrumental 03." Mean, fuzzy bass shapes the spine as unnerving theremin choirs limn.
Brash brass bursts from above like Terry Gilliam's animated foot. The horns swarm as Kaph screams, begs, "Turn it off!" It's the album's shrill peak, but just one of the incessant goosebumps raisers. After the rockets exhaust, Kaphox floats in his lone orbit. "Instrumental 04" boils down "Instrumental 05" and "Instrumental 06" (as in, the ones from Instrumental EP) to their spectral essence. The string-laden ballad comes closest to bridging Kaphox's unspoken lyrical sentiment to the instrumental effect.
The strings melt and weep as the album shifts into its underwater mode. "Instrumental 05," an ambient soundscape similar in sound and intent to Side B of Bowie and Eno's Low, calms after the record's emotionally strenuous first half. The primal, brooding guitar attack of "Instrumental 06" stomps like mating Tyrannosaurs. For an album reportedly "lacking" in traditional Kaphox moments, this is the best summation of his former strengths. The track erodes into a light jam before morphing into "Instrumental 07" "I'm lost at sea," Kaph secretly cries over clean, uneasy arpeggios.
The ending flares with tractor beams as Kaphox is vacuumed into nothingness. The aforementioned "Instrumental 08" clicks and thuds like Aphex Twin and Bjork's Homogenic, revealing brilliant new frontiers for the "band." For all the noise to this point, it's uncertain entirely who or what has created the music. There are rarely traditional arrangements in the ambiguous origin. This is part of the unique thrill of experiencing Instrumental Album. Pulsing organs and a stuttering snare delicately propel "Instrumental 09." Kaphox's breath can be heard frosting over the rainy, gray jam.
Words accumulate and stick in his mouth like eye crust. The closing "Instrumental 10" brings to mind The White Album, as it somehow combines the sentiment of Lennon's LP1 closer-- the ode to his dead mother, "Julia"-- with Ringo and Paul's maudlin, yet sincere LP2 finale, "Goodnight." Pump organ and harp flutter as Kaphox plays with affection. To further emphasize your feeling at that moment and the album's overall theme, Kaphox comes out to speak a few words in this mostly instrumental album: "Buy Fever (Deluxe) on iTunes." If you haven't already bought it you flops The experience and emotions tied to listening to The Instrumental Album are like witnessing the stillborn birth of a child while simultaneously having the opportunity to see her play in the afterlife on Imax. It's an album of sparking paradox.
It's cacophonous yet tranquil, experimental yet familiar, foreign yet womb-like, spacious yet visceral, textured yet vaporous, awakening yet dreamlike, infinite yet 48 minutes. It will cleanse your brain of those little crustaceans of worries and inferior albums clinging inside the fold of your gray matter. The harrowing sounds hit from unseen angles and emanate with inhuman genesis. When the headphones peel off, and it occurs that one man (Kaphox's parents included, for giving birth to him) created this, it's clear that Kaphox must be the greatest artist alive, if not the best since you know who.
A breathing person made this record! And you can't wait to dive back in and try to prove that wrong over and over. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..