Dusted Reviews

Jonathan Kane - February

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Jonathan Kane

Album: February

Label: Table of the Elements

Review date: Sep. 14, 2005

New York's Jonathan Kane brings a long history to bear on this, his first solo outing (why February instead of January?). From co-founding Swans to providing the pulse behind Rhys Chatham's guitar orchestras, Kane's huge drumming has been behind a host of out-there efforts. This album confirms much of this history, while bringing a number of surprises as well.

The major surprise here is that the pieces are strongly blues-based, to the point of including a version of the traditional "Motherless Child." Aided by additional guitar on some tracks from Igor Cubrilovic (who also engineered and co-produced the album), February is a tricky thing. At the beginning of opener "Curl" there was a sense of familiarity – too much so. A traditional blues lick over a solid drum thwack, it’s almost cliché, but after several minutes, you begin to hear subtle changes in the guitar, new overtones and an increased background drone.

Unlike so much self-proclaimed "drone" music these days, Kane gets it. Of recent output, perhaps the last few Skullflower albums are closest, even though the approach seems so radically different. Taking a riff and driving it into the ground is easy. Slowly altering the riff, adding and subtracting to it, keeping the rhythm strong but not boring, isn't as easy as it sounds, as numerous tedious albums attest. Eight minutes into the 12-minute "Curl," the soul of the song is still there, but the guitar has morphed and the drums keep the heart beating strong as ever. Kane's clearly learned from his experiences with Chatham, but the bluesy origins of this music are quite different.

That doesn't keep him, however, from reworking Chatham's "Guitar Trio" into another 12-minute epic to close the album. It's not so much a cover as a reinvention, though, a similar skin with a different heart, one circulating blood that's more delta than downtown.

In-between, "Pops" is almost too mild-mannered, but close attention rewards the listener; and "Sis" imagines a down-home stomper stretched on minimalism's rack until it becomes a hypnotic skeleton suitable for a night's totentanz on the town.

Deep, dense, and a dangerously entrancing way to end a rough day, it will take some damn impressive releases in the next few months for February to not be high on my year's top ten. Stellar work all around.

By Mason Jones

Other Reviews of Jonathan Kane

I Looked at the Sun

Jet Ear Party

Read More

View all articles by Mason Jones

Find out more about Table of the Elements

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.