Kaki King | Modern Yesterdays Review
By Griff Stevens
Kaki King is a composer and guitarist known for her technical mastery and her constant quest to push the boundaries of the sounds and playing techniques of the guitar. King has released nine albums and toured extensively and has performed at the Kennedy Center, MoMA, LACMA, The Met, and Smithsonian Design Museum. King has also performed with symphonies and chamber ensembles and recorded an album in collaboration with the Porta Girevole Chamber Orchestra commissioned by the Berklee College of Music. She has created music for numerous film and TV soundtracks, including August Rush and Into the Wild, which received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score. King is now releasing Modern Yesterdays on Cantaloupe Music. This is King’s tenth album and her first new studio album in five years. Modern Yesterdays was co-produced by King, Chloe Alexandra Thompson, and Arjan Miranda with sound design by Chloe Alexandra Thompson, and will be accompanied by a new multimedia show featuring King’s signature projection mapping.
“Default Shell” is an energetic composition that features King’s two-handed techniques through a shifting series of movements. King’s percussive style adds to the energy, and the bridge flows with sounds of electronica. The descending figures are a decisive moment. King’s ability to create multi-textures all on one instrument is impressive.
On “Teek,” Ralph Farris (of Ethel) performs the viola. King describes how the song materialized, “I was working on a bunch of half-written songs in preparation for the new album, and at the last minute I felt the need to come up with one more idea, so I threw a passerelle bridge on my guitar, tuned to something that felt nice, and Teek came flowing out immediately,” King explains, referring to the handcrafted passerelle she designed with luthier Rachel Rosenkrantz (and which is available for sell in her web store). “The opening phrase, the bendy mid-section, the tempo, and the fast picking with the left hand all presented themselves as if they’d always been there. Sometimes that’s the way it is — it feels spooky, but songs can write themselves if one is prepared to receive them. As far as the title is concerned, I’ve had many nicknames for my best girl, but none as funny or long-lasting as this one.” The passerelle gives the guitar a sound similar to the Japanese Koto. The composition has a balance of activity and moments of rest. Farris ethereal sounds add to the exotic nature of the composition and make for a moving musical experience.
Kaki King is always an auditory experience, and Modern Yesterdays does not disappoint. Her creativity of getting sound from the unique guitar and boundary-breaking continues to evolve, and his still as musical as ever. King is a guitar innovator, do not miss Modern Yesterdays.
Street Date: October 23, 2020 Label: Cantaloupe Music