[Table of the Elements,]

I Looked at the Sun
[Radium / Table of the Elements,]

Someone's been taking notes!After co-founding the Swans and playing the drums with Rhys Chatham, Jonathan Kane breaks out, takes the solo road and finally delivers his debut. Perhaps titled for the month when it was recorded, "February" gives a good glimpse into the present-day minimal drone aesthetic. It's as if Kane were shouting to the world, "look how much can be done with so little!"Kane who plays guitar, bass and drums is joined by the record's co-producer Igor Cubrilovic, who provides guitar parts on three of the albums five elongated tracks. What does all of this power sound like, you ask?Simple - it's loud, it rocks and it's rather good on the ear. Album's opener, twelve-minute "Curl" is a constant guitar-bass-drums bluesy number. It may sound like standard fare at first, but as you progress into the number, you start paying attention to slight nuances and off-key changes. Every tiny shift is done so carefully and executed with such precision that by half-way mark, you feel like you've known this music all of your life. By about ten minutes into the piece, I drifted off, which is not a put-down of the record, but a good sign of great minimalist writing in action. In fact, no matter how aggressive the music is, there's nothing more that I love than to be lulled by the sound of music. Further on, "Sis" at first resembles a rockabilly number, but as you investigate it deeper, you find the same interesting repetitive patterns found elsewhere on the record. The album holds two surprises. The first of these is an understated version of "Motherless Child", where Kane and Cubrilovic trade off some intricate duelling guitar parts. Second surprise is the final 12 minute Rhys Chatham piece "Guitar Trio". Bluesier than the original, Kane's take on this classic still retains the same glowing heart with an added punch. There's no point in stating the obvious, is there?A stunning debut all the way through.
Kane's latest EP "I Looked at the Sun" picks up where "February" left off. Trading in Igor Cubrilovic for David Daniell who plays pedal steel and guitar, the album continues to travel the same road of repetition, abandonment and a smell of a lonely bijou, populated by few and dozens of hungry alligators. What a difference a heavy pedal steel makes. You'd think you were right in the heart of the delta when you listen to these sounds. Kane lays on thick layers of guitar parts, while Daniell provides intricately enjoyable guitar lines along with those scorching hot pedal steel sections. Once again, both pieces revolve around a single rhythm that is expanded on and ultimately slightly altered - adding a brief guitar solo here or a quick shift in percussive pattern. Once again, a stellar follow up, though the length of the EP makes me crave a full length next time around.

-Tom Sekowski

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