Eudemonic – Steve Kimock Band
Sci Fidelity 1026
Academia is often the unwitting enemy of art. While a studious attempt to catalog and preserve the history of art is admirable, when it comes to the creation of art, there can be a dark side. Entwined and tangled up in theories, its approach to the creation of art can be clinical rather than organic. The results may be interesting, vexing, and complicated but often prove lacking as well.
While Steve Kimock is an amazingly gifted guitarist, his recent compositions seemingly stem from the technical netherworld of academia. Kimock has often spoke about his desires to bring Eastern scales and time-signatures into the Western musical vocabulary, which is a worthy goal. Unfortunately, a great deal of the compositions on the Steve Kimock Band’s Eudemonic sound as if they started as theories rather than melodies. Indeed, on a song like “Ice Cream,” one can hear that Kimock began with a strange chord progression and then attempted to cram a melody inside of it. The result is a technical success but an artistic dud. Other songs, such as the Arabian-themed “The Bronx Experiment,” succeed at creating interesting textures and atmosphere, but there is nary a melody to be found. It’s all pomp and no circumstance.
A common criticism of Kimock has been his songs are filled with technical merit but they are often so heady that they fail to engage the listener. That’s a major problem with the compositions on Eudemonic, with the one exception being the title track, a gently rolling and somewhat psychedelic exploration of the lap steel. But one would be hard pressed to find any sort of palpable emotion in the remainder of the album.
One might place the problem within the treacherous constraints of the age-old “jamband appearing lifeless in the studio” conundrum but for the record, drummer Rodney Holmes would like everyone to know that the Steve Kimock Band does not “consider (itself) a jam band.” What else is new? Kimock and company can run from the label while simultaneously marketing themselves to the jamband audience (just like every jamband does these days), but that doesn’t change the fact that these songs are far more invigorating in concert while Eudemonic is little more than a technically-adventurous musical textbook with a complementary dose of NyQuil. Sweet dreams