5 Songs, 44 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Anyone who has followed the stubbornly eccentric career of Mayo Thompson’s band the Red Krayola expects to be baffled (and often bedazzled) by each succeeding release. Still, Five American Portraits — recorded in collaboration with fellow musical saboteurs Art & Language — is a curious creation even by RK’s standards. The album’s five tracks sketch out aural likenesses of real and imaginary celebrities in settings ranging from neo-classical to post-punk. Thompson and singer Gina Birch trade off on providing minutely detailed descriptions of two U.S. presidents (Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush), a pair of movie icons (John Wayne, Wile E. Coyote) and an abstract painter (Ad Reinhardt). Against the rigorously objective lyrics, snatches of classic rock songs, Mozart sonatas and gospel hymns are woven in and out of zany improvisational outbursts and poker-faced musical puns. In the process, Thompson and his cohorts achieve the audio equivalent of a Dadaist collage, at once deadly serious and wildly subversive.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Anyone who has followed the stubbornly eccentric career of Mayo Thompson’s band the Red Krayola expects to be baffled (and often bedazzled) by each succeeding release. Still, Five American Portraits — recorded in collaboration with fellow musical saboteurs Art & Language — is a curious creation even by RK’s standards. The album’s five tracks sketch out aural likenesses of real and imaginary celebrities in settings ranging from neo-classical to post-punk. Thompson and singer Gina Birch trade off on providing minutely detailed descriptions of two U.S. presidents (Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush), a pair of movie icons (John Wayne, Wile E. Coyote) and an abstract painter (Ad Reinhardt). Against the rigorously objective lyrics, snatches of classic rock songs, Mozart sonatas and gospel hymns are woven in and out of zany improvisational outbursts and poker-faced musical puns. In the process, Thompson and his cohorts achieve the audio equivalent of a Dadaist collage, at once deadly serious and wildly subversive.

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