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INTERVIEW: kandodo
Ned Raggett , August 14th, 2013 08:09

We talk to Simon Price about the second album, k2o, he's releasing under his experimental solo guise

Photograph courtesy of Simon Deane

Simon Price - a key member of long-running UK psych rock fiends The Heads, as distinct from the journalist who has often graced the Quietus - has been exploring some solo work in recent years as well via the guise of kandodo. Following a self-released self-titled album a couple of years back that got a re-release on Thrill Jockey, the new k2o continues Price’s obsessions with drone, massive feedback, meditative textures and more besides. Combining field recordings, found sound segments - ‘grace and’ folds a tour guide narration of Elvis Presley’s mansion over a elegant performance - and studio work, occasionally with the help of Heads drummer Wayne Maskell, k2o is another in the series of brilliantly gone releases Thrill Jockey has put out this year alone. Via e-mail, Price caught us up on the album and other matters.

The question of sonic identity when it comes to solo work versus a full band has interested me for a while - a bit of a standard I always fall back on is how Bardo Pond work so well together while also developing a wide range of solo and other efforts. Did kandodo always start specifically as its own thing or did part or all of it develop out of work done for The Heads? Does k2o stand out for you as something more 'itself' because it is a second effort rather than a start?

Simon Price: kandodo was just me, bored and at a loose end. The Heads have been going for over 20 years and I found myself with some spare down time as we weren't doing much. To keep busy/amuse myself, I started recording at home, whatever I felt like. With a band, it's a different dynamic, you have to listen to the others. On my own I had free reign to explore new alleys and cul-de-sacs. The Heads output is a bit different, a bit more in your face; kandodo's a bit of a late night reprise.

The kandodo live setup includes Wayne and Hugo [Morgan], the drums and bass, from The Heads. It's fun to play with them in a slightly different dynamic; hopefully I can get more recordings done with them. k2o is a more confident album than the first, maybe less diverse but more up for it - my debut was really a collection of sketches. k2o has many familiar flavours but with different ratios. Sorry, too much Tap.

Something that leapt out at me even before I listened to k2o were the two very long songs on it. ‘kandy rock mountain’ itself makes me think of prime early Ash Ra Tempel to a degree. Does composition and creation of a longer piece come for you more easily than shorter works, or do they require different approaches and mindsets to start with?

SP: I do like Ash Ra Tempel, specially the first [album] with just two long tracks. Short tracks have to be kept short for me - I have to put a limit on, otherwise everything I record would be 10 minutes minimum. The two long tracks you mention were both edits - I'd like to do a finished full version, but you can only fit 22/23 minutes onto vinyl so that's really the limit. The longer tracks are more jam-based, keep going till I drop. It's all pretty random though, a three minute track might have a ten minute overdub, so then it turns into the longer beast.

I'm pretty self-conscious as a writer that when I use terms like 'drone' or 'psychedelia' or 'ambient' they are all at best shorthands that are suggestive rather than descriptive, given the huge range of music out there tagged with those terms. How would you yourself describe what kandodo does, and what to your ear as a composer and performer makes it distinct from contemporaneous work in the same general sphere?

SP: kandodo is psychedelic drone rock, spacerock ambience, liquid sike; labels are useful but don't tell the whole story. We all look to the past for inspiration, the 60s and 70s in particular, be it the Velvets or Harmonia, Bowie, Eno or the Stooges. Quite how kandodo stands in the art/noise/psych pantheon I don't know. Lots of bands draw on similar influences; certain pedals and a limited technique are my own touches.

Learning that the inspiration for kandodo's name comes from your youth in Africa did make me listen to k2o with a slightly self-conscious ear to perhaps catch elements or approaches with less familiarity to me as an American listener. Do you perceive this inspiration as something more subtle or private that translates out to listeners in an indirect way, or is it more hiding in plain sight, as it were?

SP: Time and space is the African connection. It's referenced on song names (‘hyena’, ‘dagga’, ‘witchdoctor’) but it's more the African vibe of space/nature and the time to enjoy it, at least that's what my childhood was like. I'd like to think that kandodo lollops along like an old hyena. At times you may not notice it, it doesn't seem to do much but then it could take your hand off or chew your boots in the night, you wake up wondering what the hell was that? k2o is good background music (not a bad thing) but you can also give it extra attention (headphones, volume) and its character is hopefully revealed. kandodo is also the music that would soundtrack various escapades of my life.

‘july 28th’ gave me the most immediate, almost tactile pleasure on the whole album, plus it feels wonderfully stately as well, like a progression. What does the title itself refer to - the date of recording, a specific incident on that day, or something else?

SP: Yeah, ‘july 28th’ has got a euphoric vibe (that aching/lurchy/tubey Korg sound). I recorded it right at the start of last year's summer holidays, on July 28. I'd just bought a lap steel off eBay and that was my first go on it, the track was all done on that day. Also it was the last track I recorded for the album. It's a sunny, relaxed, burnt vibe, woozy and grinning. Not played the steel since. The Velvets are an obvious reference. Fuzz country. The lap steel is a very psychedelic instrument, really should break it out again.

The death of Jesus Acedo of Black Sun Ensemble earlier this year was another reminder to me about how the music can last even though we all must inevitably move on. Do you think of your work in terms of any kind of legacy per se, or is it something that celebrates the points of creation and expression in the moment?

SP: When playing, for me, it is all for the immediate pleasure of moving strings and making sounds, beautiful noise out of wood and metal. It is the creation that is so much fun yet ephemeral, as afterwards you remember something great but it's a blur. Thanks to the record button you can access your efforts and relive those moments in a reflected way - the fact that others may also enjoy those noises is great. It'd be cool to think that the music I've contributed to may live on, that people may rate it. Humans seem to like to leave an impression, and kandodo and the Heads would be my tiny contributions to the human experience. But really, it's just great fun to meet your mates, chat and make some noise. You can forget the everyday and aim for deep space.

k2o is out on August 19 via Thrill Jockey

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