Deserted: Kula Shaker – K

Perched on shelves, buried in bins, and collecting dust on racks, some of the world’s best music is left to the fate of time. Forgotten and neglected, these artists and albums are now primed for re-evaluation thanks to a world gone digital. Any would-be musical explorer can now plug in, tune out, and turn up. Deserted is aimed at aiding those who would embrace the past rather than reject it. So open up your arms and welcome Kula Shaker.

Often hindsight provides us with a spectacular chance at re-evaluation and unclouded perception. Buried beneath a mountain of bad publicity, poor wording choices, and movie star DNA, Kula Shaker was the victims of their own hype. Yet the flame that burned bright on K, the band’s debut album, continues to flourish in blinding oranges and blues as the world has caught up to the band’s neo-psychedelic visions.

Fronted by Crispin Mills, it took Kula Shaker quite a few line-up and name changes to finally settle on an aesthetic blending Mills’ fascination with Indian mysticism and the band’s musical cornerstones of The Beatles and 60s Brit psychedelia. Such a mixture proved a powder keg in the Britain press, exploding Kula Shaker to the top of the charts. Stateside, the explosion wasn’t as large but its ripples were noticeable on a landscape pocked with grunge and alternative outfits.

Psychedelia was an old notion; lost to the reinterpretations of a select few 90s teens and mis-remembering Deadheads. The impact of Kula Shaker on anyone taking notice of the differing sound from the factory-pressed alterna-acts of the time was sudden — yet somehow familiar and comforting. K may not serve as a monumental release or even a relic of the shift that has taken place in particular musical circles but it does serve notice that psychedelic music is sustainable; part of the circle of musical life. Cringe at “Grateful When You’re Dead (Jerry Was There),” all these years later if you must, but don’t ignore the tantric chill of “Tattva,” the mod cool of “Knight on the Town,” or the throwback swagger of “Magic Theatre.” A mountain of public flubs and kooky mysticism aside, Mills had his head on straight as far as K’s musical content is concerned.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist whose work can be viewed at his website. He also pens Agitated Atmosphere for the KEXP Blog. You may follow him on Twitter.

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