Stephăn Whitlan's K2Project is, as you might've guessed from its name, electronic music, largely in the Tangs-alike 'Berlin School', with extra added techno influences here and there. I'm afraid I can't tell whether or not it's above average; I doubt it, but most of this stuff sounds the same to my ears (heresy!). Whitlan is credited with Mellotron on closer Illegal Data, but nothing on the track sounds any more (or, indeed, less) like a Mellotron than anything else on the album.
Kaipa (Sweden) see:
Even someone as radio-phobic as myself couldn't avoid The Kaiser Chiefs' I Predict A Riot back in '05, although I've been happy to avoid their subsequent output, at least until now. Their fifth release, 2014's Education, Education, Education & War, is recognisably the same band, spewing out vaguely punky invective in a radio-friendly manner, to the irritation of all but their devoted fans, I'd imagine. It's almost redeemed by the anti-war Cannons (the lyrics provide the album title), with its unusual spoken-word section, but the rest of the material scuppers its chances, at least as far as this site's concerned. Nick "Peanut" Baines (shit nicknames? We've gottem) adds a speedy, clearly sampled 'Mellotron' string line to My Life, improving matters not one jot in the process. Into current UK indie? I'm sure you already own this. The rest of us? Don't even think about it.
Inspired to make music after years of clubbing, Paul Kalkbrenner had no intention of DJing, preferring to create something original, an attitude from which many others could learn. I have no idea what variety of electronica you'll hear on 2001's Zeit; suffice to say, while its programmed rhythms quickly become irritating, Kalkbrenner has an ear for texture, if not melody. Best track? Zeit itself. Runner-up? Unterton. Kalkbrenner sticks Mellotron string samples all over the title track, underpinning them with some squelchy (pseudo?-) Moog bass, although I can't imagine it's something you're going to spend hard cash to hear. Incidentally, thanks to Max for spotting this one.
I'm not sure I can give The Kamikazies any higher praise than to say, 'they sound Scandinavian'; you know, that dirty rock'n'roll attitude thing that the north of Europe's done so well for so long. I'm actually reminded of proto-pop-punks The Undertones in places, too. Top track? Probably opener Bad Girl. One T. Dallas Reed is credited with Mellotron, presumably the samplotron flute line on closer Here On Earth.
Kane are a typical example of the worst kind of insipid modern 'rock'; Radiohead/U2 wannabees, wetter than Coldplay and Snow Patrol having a bitch-fight with a wet salmon. Fearless is their sixth album, so someone must like them; I believe they're huge in their home country, anyway; a classic 'local band'. Best tracks? Don't be silly; look at the star rating. I believe Reyn Ouwehand does his usual samplotron thing, although not a lot, with faint background strings on All I Can Do and flutes on closer Dreamer (Gussies Song).
Jukka Tapio Karjalainen is a Finnish Dylanesque singer-songwriter, operating since the early '80s under several different band names, who (perfectly reasonably) prefers to work in his own language. 1999's Electric Picnic was his third release as J Karjalainen Electric Sauna and something like his fourteenth studio album overall, a diverse offering with roots in rock'n'roll and country that could easily hail from 1975, if not '65; the bluesy Meno Mielessä actually reminds me of Nazareth, never a fashionable name to drop. While most tracks trundle along well enough (if in a language few non-Finns speak), the ultra-repetitive Pikku Josephine could probably have been quietly dropped. Pekka Gröhn plays samplotron, with a flute melody on opener Picnic, a weird, choppy string part on Lomalle Meksikoon that could almost be organ, but isn't and nutsoid flutes on closer Koko Keittiö Rokkas.
The Wanderlust Diaries is the worst kind of insipid singer-songwriter effort, where I'm sure the lyrics are terribly profound (I really wasn't listening that closely), but the Americana-tinged music is dull as bloody ditchwater. I have no idea why John Deaderick is credited with Mellotron.
Karmakanic (ho ho) are yet another Flower Kings offshoot, this time led by bassist Jonas Reingold, although so many Flower Kings members play on his/their albums that you sometimes feel you might as well be listening to the parent band. Their 2002 debut, Entering the Spectra, features Roine Stolt, Tomas Bodin and drummers Zoltan Czörz and Jaime Salazar, so it won't come as any great surprise to hear that it sounds like a darker, bass-led Flower Kings, for better or worse. Much of the material on display here is yer standard prog-by-numbers, although, given that it's a bass player's project, we finally get the inevitable (and dreaded) funk jam on One Whole Half; in some ways, it's a relief to get it out of the way, to be honest. Other lesser tracks include Is This The End?, which starts off as a big, cheesy ballad, before switching into 'manic synth solo' mode, while Cello Suite No.1 In G Major is, as you might expect, played on bass. Best track? Possibly closer Welcome To Paradise, bur nothing especially stands out. 'Mellotronically' speaking, Bodin sticks a brief, faint string part on the title track, a flute melody on The Spirit Remains The Same, a snatch of choir on Cyberdust From Mars, slightly more overt flutes on Space Race No.3 and string and choir parts scattered throughout.
Reingold followed up with 2004's Wheel of Life, a more band-orientated effort with less (though far from no) Flower Kings input, typified by the slightly bluesy Hindby and the plinky-plonky likes of the title track. On the samplotron front, we get major flute and cello parts in Do U Tango, one of the album's better tracks and horrible, obviously sampled strings in Where The Earth Meets The Sky and the title track, amongst others. However, the album's overall harmlessness just scrapes three stars, despite the unnecessary material. After a four-year wait, 2008's Who's the Boss in the Factory (no, no question mark; maybe it's referring to someone called 'Who'. Dr. Who?) sounds, if anything, even more like The Flower Kings, although I suspect the vocals have a lot to do with it. Once again, plenty of so-so stuff, although Eternally Part II is, at heart, a(nother) big, sloppy ballad. Samplotron strings and choirs dotted around opener Send A Message From The Heart and a couple of other tracks, although the strings on Eternally sound real.
2010's The Power of Two (that's Nixon's momentous meeting with Mao on the cover) documents a live collaboration between Karmakanic and The Agents of Mercy; an obvious pairing, as the two projects have shared several members at various points. Aside from the obvious Reingold and Stolt, the six-piece lineup featured here is completed by another three members of either or both bands, with Spock's Beard's Nick d'Virgilio on drums. In a nice, even split, the disc contains three tracks from each band, a keyboard solo and a rather perfunctory version of Genesis' Afterglow. Speaking of Genesis, I feel the need to reiterate my comment in my Agents of Mercy review regarding the utterly blatant Broadway Melody Of 1974 rip on The Fading Ghosts Of Twilight. This has to be deliberate, surely? Samplotron in all the expected places, although Lalle Larsson's solo switches between ripping piano and synth work.
2011's In a Perfect World takes a more Spock's Beard direction, although d'Virgilio isn't involved. To be brutally honest, they don't make it work that well; the unusual prog/Latin rumba of Can't Take It With You reminds me of The Light, from the Beard's album of the same name, while closer When Fear Came To Town is particularly dull. I also feel honour-bound to report, with great sadness, that opener 1969 isn't a cover of The Stooges' classic, merely another overblown, unfocussed prog epic. Surprisingly little samplotron this time round, although a string part opens the album. Determining whether or not you're likely to enjoy Karmakanic albums essentially rests on the answer to one question: do you like The Flower Kings? If yes, then yes. If no, then probably no. I won't try to pretend for a second that writing material of this complexity is easy - it most certainly isn't - but Karmakanic seem to be writing to a formula (ditto TFK) for an audience who expect a particular sound. And I thought prog was supposed to be adventurous. Oh well.
UK indie heroes Kasabian's fourth album, 2011's Velociraptor!, makes their two-star debut sound like the work of geniuses (geneii?), its faux-'60s moves sounding every bit as fake as you'd expect. The nearest it gets to 'listenable' comes in the form of opener Let's Roll Like We Used To and La Fée Verte, but nonsense such as Days Are Forgotten, Goodbye Kiss and the punky electronica of the title track highlight the band's grotesque lack of musical ambition perfectly. La Fée Verte is the only thing here with any obvious samplotron use, with a string line that seems unlikely to be the real violins heard later in the track. Seriously, this is empty rubbish. Avoid.
Katatonia are a vaguely doom metal bunch from Sweden, who, by their fifth album, 2001's Last Fair Deal Gone Down, seem to've mutated into some kind of unholy metal/indie crossover thing. I've heard heavier bands use programmed percussion and get away with it, but Katatonia are not one of those bands. It's not that the album's terrible, but it is too long (even at fifty minutes) and their 'metal-riffs-by-numbers' thing gets very dull very quickly. Basically, it sort of drones on for a while and then it stops, which is the bit I like. Anders Nyström is credited with Mellotron, to which I can only say, "You 'avin a larf, then?" OK, I could be wrong (as so often), but the consistently long attack on the strings and the 'too high for the keyboard' notes, particularly noticeable at the beginning of The Future Of Speech, sort of give the game away. Anyway, you get strings on most tracks, plus flutes on a couple, but it all falls a bit flat when you realise it's samples. So; a rather dull album (again) with more fake Mellotron. Next...
'Next' is fifteen years later, with 2016's The Fall of Hearts. Now, I've seen a lot of opinions bandied about that Katatonia have 'gone prog'. Well, if by 'prog', you mean 'melodic death metal', then yes, maybe. However, I don't. This isn't a 'prog' record, it's, at best, 'the prog end of metal', which at least beats what they were doing in the early 2000s. In fairness, it's actually not bad, although I'm having trouble differentiating one track from another, so I shan't try to pick out highlights. Samplotron everywhere; seriously, guys, repeat after me: Less. Is. More. Strings all over everything, notes often held for unfeasibly long periods of time, lots of flutes (which actually sound pretty authentic) and possibly choirs, although those could be generic. The trouble with overuse is, the striking sounds lose their impact, just becoming another part of the sonic palette. Less. Is. More. Repeat after me...
Bostonian Katrin Roush's Frail to Fearless is apparently her first 'non-regional' release, i.e. first non-self-released, I'd imagine. Produced by Peter Gabriel sideman and all-roung legend Jerry Marotta, contributors include Tony Levin (Gabriel, Crimson, a million others) and John Sebastian, so why is the end result so dull? Songwriting, or lack of, is the answer. Roush has a lovely voice, but the songs fall into that 'bland adult pop' style that can either sell millions, or fall flat on its face. Is there a 'best track'? Easy. That's The Way, from Led Zep III. Daniel A. Weiss is credited with Mellotron flutes, but the brief, repeating part in Enough and the parts in Ivy and That's The Way just aren't doing it.
Sada Sat Kaur's debut, Angels' Waltz, is an album of gentle, Sihkism-inspired music, its follow-up, Shashara, being more of the same, only less interesting. I tried really hard to like this, but its lengthy, repetitive, meditative-yet-twee pieces only end up frustrating the (or, at least, this) listener. Its predecessor features Zac Rae's Chamberlin, but, despite credits for both Rae's Chamby and Mellotron, all I can hear this time round is some sampled flutes on opener Adi Mantra.
New Yorkers Kayo Dot, led by Toby Driver, began as an avant-metal outfit in 2003, quickly shedding most of their metal tropes to become an intriguing combination of avant-rock, containing elements of more mainstream metal and prog. Their third album, 2008's Blue Lambency Downward, is their furthest yet from their metal origins, which isn't to say that the guitars whisper away gently throughout; they don't, although nor do they actually riff per se very often, either. The only criticisms I'd level at this are 1) drop the vocals and 2) the woodwind's great, but make the arrangements just a touch more cohesive. Mostly, though, the material works well, although it all ends rather inconclusively, at least to my ears. Driver credits himself with 'laptop Mellotron', instantly making him more honest than about 98% of other sample users, playing background flutes on the title track and strings on The Sow Submits, with maybe one or two other odd parts buried in the mix.
Unfortunately, I found Gamma Knife, from four years later, virtually unlistenable, although that's clearly my problem, rather than the band's. String-swamped opener Lethe is the closest the album gets to 'normal', but Rite Of Goetic Evocation and Ocellated God are full-on avant-fests of clattering drums, guitar noise and screaming. At least it's only half an hour long. Tim Byrnes' 'Mellotron'? Inaudible.
Ronan Keating, ex-Boyzone, minor talent. His second solo album, 2002's Destination, is exactly what you'd expect, being lifeless mainstream pop aimed at little girls of all ages with too much money (patronising? Moi?). There are no highlights. Rick Nowels (of the horrible Dido fame) and Greg Kurstin are credited with Mellotron on any or all of I Love it When We Do, Love Won't Work (If We Don't Try), Come Be My Baby, My One Thing That's Real, Time For Love, Blown Away, As Much As I Can Give You Girl and Pickin' Me Up, although I'll be buggered if I can hear it anywhere. The background strings on As Much As I Can Give You Girl? Who knows? Assume samples.
Powerpop god Tommy Keene (he released his first album in 1982) survived a two-album spell on Geffen in the late '80s to become an elder statesman of the genre by the 2000s. The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down is his seventh studio album, full of exactly the kind of 'B' band (Badfinger, Beatles etc.)-influenced material you'd expect, which is no bad thing. Original? Not really, but since when was a current album in an old style going to have much originality about it? I didn't spot any actual rip-offs, although The Man Without A Soul opens with the cheeky line, "I think I've lost that loving feeling", but homage is expected, right? The album's personal highlight has to be the sixteen-minute The Final Hour, which rocks like a bastard, still amazingly sounding like powerpop despite its prog length, other goodies including opener Begin Where We End and Hanging Over My Head. Wilco's Jay Bennett plays keys, including samplotron, with background flutes on Big Blue Sky, strings on The Final Hour and both sounds cropping up on The World Where I Still Live, though nothing especially obvious.
Kelda's debut, Detour, is, I'm sorry to say, at the blandest end of the singer-songwriter spectrum, crossing over into 'adult contemporary', frankly. Richard Barron's 'Mellotron'? Distant strings on Love To Love You and occasional flutes on closer Bring Me To My Knees, obviously sampled.
Slushy singer-songwriter stuff from Paula Kelley, possibly at its least bad on The Light Under The Door. Kelley's alleged Mellotron turns out to be the very obvious flute samples (HOW long does that note hold?) on Ordinary Mind.
Dan Kelly is the nephew of Aussie star Paul Kelly, although he could well end up being better-known internationally, if 2010's Dan Kelly's Dream is anything to go by. If you read this site at all regularly, you can't have failed to come across one of my scathing slaggings of some drivelly wet-behind-the-ears modern singer-songwriter crap; well, Kelly is the antithesis of that, writing intelligent, interesting and unusual material
(as an example, the title track is in 5/4, hardly a top 40-ready signature). His lyrics are, on average, even more offbeat than his music, more notable examples including A Classical DJ At Dandenong Station and The Catholic Leader; don't get me wrong, nothing here reinvents the wheel, but Kelly stands out from the morass of vaguely similar artists due to his stubborn refusal to follow trends. Kelly is credited with Mellotron, but flute line on Gap Year Blues fails to convince, ditto the strings on The Catholic Leader, dumping this straight into samples without passing go or collecting £200. A fine album, ripe for worldwide discovery, but no Mellotron.
Ian "Kelly" Couture's second album, 2008's Speak Your Mind, is the kind of ultra-lightweight, rubbishy modern singer-songwriter guff I've berated in my Dan Kelly review; the kind of music designed to slime its way onto popular US TV shows like Grey's Anatomy. You know, slick arrangements, twee, major-key melodies and that horrible falsetto that every 'sensitive' type feels they have to throw in at least once per song. Nasty. Guillaume Chartrain plays samplotron, with a chordal flute part on Wonderful Humans.
Paul Kelly has been a fixture on the Australian scene for over four decades, his more recent work slotting into the country area. I'm sure the writing on Spring & Fall ('Autumn', surely?) is superb, but the overall feel is downbeat and uninventive, although I'm sure that's missing the point. Kelly's nephew Dan plays Mellotron flutes on opener New Found Year, but I'd be surprised if they were genuine.
Gary Kemp, now a successful actor, was guitarist and songwriter-in-chief for the horrible Spandau Ballet, which, I suppose, makes him the 'talented one'. God help us. His lone solo album, 1995's Little Bruises, is as bland a pop album as you could possibly wish for (or not), not helped in the slightest by the dismal cod-Celtic warblings on several tracks. Highpoints? Don't be silly, although the sneaky Bowie lyrical quote in the title track ("Always crashing in the same car" indeed...) at least made me laugh, though, admittedly, not for long. Frankly, this album made me lose the will to live; almost every track is at least a minute too long, except Brother Heart, which would probably be improved by
being deleted losing a good three minutes, which is even more painful than it sounds. Ed Shearmur allegedly plays Mellotron, although it's near-on impossible to say where. The background strings on the title track? Who knows? I suspect samples, anyway. I suppose I should watch what I say here; Kemp rose to actorly fame playing the insanely violent Ronnie Kray in 1990's The Krays, so maybe I should expect some 'eavy to turn up wiv a shooter sometime soon. I look forward to it.
Rose Kemp is the daughter of UK folk-rock legends Rick Kemp and Maddy Prior of Steeleye Span (Rick has also played with the mighty Gnidrolog) and she's played with the band herself, so you might expect her fourth solo release, Unholy Majesty, despite its title, to be in a similar vein. The sleeve paintings, with their gothic imagery, could be at the darker end of the folk spectrum and you'd think the presence of a violinist pretty much seals the deal. However... What you actually get is a folk-influenced, progressive gothic metal album, that probably sounds a bit like somebody, but I'll be buggered if I can think of whom. Kemp gleefully mixes genres, shifting from acoustic sections to full band arrangements, (real) Hammond blasting away alongside her goth-metal riffs, suddenly switching to dark violin or prog keyboard passages. Best tracks? Probably Wholeness Sounds, with Rose sounding uncannily like her mum, if her mum sang in a goth band and lengthy closer The Unholy. Fakeotron on one track, with strings all over The Unholy. Do you buy this? In all honesty, it's not for everyone, but I enjoyed it and I'm not that easy to please, so I feel compelled to say: worth a listen. Incidentally, a mate of mine has seen Rose play live, asked her about the Mellotron on my behalf (cheers, Adrian!) and let her know I have one for hire.
Kent are a classic 'locals band': huge in their home country, unknown elsewhere, despite issuing two of their albums in English-language versions. Listening to their sixth album, 2005's Du & Jag Döden ('You and Me Death'), it isn't hard to see why, as they sound an awful lot like a whole slew of English-speaking pop/rock outfits, only singing in Swedish and with fewer catchy songs. A bit of U2, a bit of The Cure, a bit of Depeche Mode... I think you get the idea. Not-quite-so-bad tracks include the gentle Järnspöken and, er, that's it, I'm afraid. Three of the band's five members are credited with keyboards, but, given that the 'Mellotron' strings on Du Är Ånga and (more obviously) Den Döda Vinkeln are quite clearly sampled, it isn't of any great import. For what it's worth (very little), all other string parts sound like generic samples. Do you? You do not.
Keyboards Triangle were a one-off collaboration between Japanese keyboard trios Gerard and Arsnova (or Ars Nova), although the bands didn't actually play together on their sole album under this banner, 1999's Keyboard Trio Tribute. The project's entire raison d'être, for better or worse, was to record their own versions of keyboard-heavy prog classics, from both trios and larger lineups, with an unfortunate (but expected) emphasis on the overblown works of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. If any of the titles aren't familiar to your good self, the pieces tackled are ELP's Toccata (from Brain Salad Surgery), Trace's Birds Medley (Birds), Banco (del Mutuo Soccorso)'s La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta (Darwin!), Il Balletto di Bronzo's Epilogo (YS), Rick Wakeman's Catherine Parr (The Six Wives of Henry VIII, of course), ELP's Tarkus (Tarkus, obviously) and PFM's Four Holes In The Ground (L'Isola di Niente/The World Became the World).
So; are they any good? Well, with source material as strong as this, both bands would have trouble cocking it up too royally, Arsnova giving us a blinding version of the mighty Trace's Birds Medley and actually improving on Tarkus by playing it instrumentally. Gerard are particularly overblown, but in a reasonably good way, although they slightly overdo it on Four Holes In The Ground. Both bands use Mellotron samples: Gerard's Toshio Egawa adds samplotron flutes and strings to La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta, giving us a taste of how Banco might have sounded using a Mellotron, choirs on Catherine Parr (wrong chords, guys) and strings on Four Holes In The Ground, while Arsnova's Keiko Kumagai adds rather grungy strings to Il Balletto di Bronzo's Epilogo. The Japanese seem to be keen on this kind of thing (see: Kings' Boards), so it comes as no great surprise that there was a second volume, performed by Gerard alone, although it appears to be Mellotron sample-free. As far as Keyboard Trio Tribute goes, if you're into either of the contributing artists, you can't really go too far wrong, unless you see absolutely no point in hearing them cover existing material.
Steve Kilbey is better-known as vocalist with legendary Aussie psychonauts The Church, although he's been releasing solo records since the mid-'80s. 2009's Painkiller is something like the eleventh such and it pains (ho ho) me not to be able to be more positive about it. My problem with it is... it drags. OK, I know The Church have a distinctly psych bent, but this collection of space-rock ramblings really doesn't do Kilbey's reputation any favours. The worst offenders are the tracks where he attempts to ape the jamband scene, notably the twelve-minute File Under Travel, which at least has the good grace to be reasonably energetic for some of its length and half hour closer Not What You Say, of which about the first twelve minutes are 'song' and the remaining twenty ambient electronic goo. Think King Crimson's Moonchild, but infinitely more boring. Like so many other albums I've heard recently, this is OK for a few tracks, then despondency sets in as you realise it isn't going to get any better. The album's highpoint? The lyrics, actually. Kilbey and Tim Powles both play samplotron, with strings on opener Outbound, flutes and strings on Celestial, distant choir stabs on Oenone and background strings on Forever Lasts For Nothing, with a final, more upfront string part on Not What You Say. It's all clearly sampled, though, proven by Wolfe, which opens with the MkII 'moving strings'. Sorry to be so down on this, but even if you discount the last twenty minutes, it's still far too long for its actual content and sounds like it was made by a bunch of stoned-out... Er, hang on...
David Neil: "The Wilderness Years" is an amusing conceit, i.e. Neil was a Canadian rock star Kilbey played with in his youth who "...had the dubious distinction of dying three deaths at once" (OD, plane crash and gunshot wounds). Kilbey claims to have been sent some unfinished masters which he and friends have finished in tribute to their old mentor. The material pastiches '70s mainstream pop/rock a little too well, although Kilbey's own infleunces leak through all over; amusing, but you ain't foolin' anyone, Kilbey. David Skeet's 'Mellotron' choirs on Higher Than Yesterday ain't foolin' anyone, either.
Kill, Baby...Kill! sensibly keep Corridor X down to half an hour or so, as their frenetic surf/punk hybrid could easily outstay its welcome. As it is, its twelve quick-fire instrumental tracks, replete with soundtrack samples, mostly on the subject of nuclear war, are a delight for lovers of The Cramps and their ilk. Chad Shivers' 'Mellotron' consists of a background choir line on Meltdown In Sector 9. Non.
Will Kimbrough's Home Away is, roughly speaking, an Americana album, although he covers a fair bit of ground across its forty-odd minutes, from the witty hoedown of opener Piece Of Work through the vaguely jazzy Champion Of The World, the mainstream country rock of Crackup and War Of Words' soul (!) grooves. The end result is possibly too diverse for its own good, but several excellent songs save the day. However, I have no idea why Kimbrough is credited with Mellotron. Sad to say, Wings, from seven year later, loses the wit and joie de vivre, replacing them with the sickly-sweet, heartfelt platitudes of opener Three Angels and closer A Couple Hundred Miracles. No obvious Christian references, but that's the overall feel. David Henry's 'Mellotron' is, again, inaudible.
Meres of Twilight is a pop-end-of-post-rock kind of album, all transcendent crescendos and heartfelt vocals. Trouble is, someone forgot to write any songs. Despite a credit, Nick Eskelinen does not play Mellotron.
With a name like King Black Acid, I had high hopes of some modern psych, or at least something far enough from the mainstream to possibly, just possibly be interesting. It would seem I am, again, wrong. They actually play (or at least do on 2000's grammatically-hopeless Loves a Long Song) slightly psychedelic indie, the most 'psychedelic' thing about them being their track lengths, as you can see from the album timing above. I'm afraid to say that having an average track length of eight minutes doth NOT a psych band make and nor do interminable guitar jams over synth washes. That isn't to say that the album doesn't have its strong points; some serious editing would've made this a far more listenable proposition in my book and I usually like bands to stretch out. Daniel John Riddle's the likeliest candidate as samplotronist, with a small string part on Into The Sun and a more major one on Colorado (Wherever It Is You Are).
King Crimson (UK) see:
It would be too easy to categorise Seattle's T.J. "King Dude" Cowgill as another southern gothic-styled Nick Cave impersonator, but the dark folk/country of 2014's Fear has far more depth than that description might suggest. Think: gravel-voiced rockabilly/Tex-Mex-tinted Americana, with songs of the quality of Maria, Demon Caller Number 9, Lay Down In Bedlam and the sparse Empty House, while effective opener Fear Is All You Know harks back to Cowgill's metal roots. Bill Rieflin (Nine Inch Nails, REM, King Crimson) is credited with Mellotron, but, as with the recent Crimso live album, the background flutes on Empty House are fairly clearly sampled. Cowgill has yet to make that album, but Fear shows him well on the way.
It seems King Friday began as, essentially, a side-project of our old friends Crack the Sky, three of its members adding guitarist Corey Marbut and Canadian vocalist Phil Naro (Talas/Druckfarben) to their ranks, drafting in the likes of Oliver Wakeman to help out on their 2012 debut, Let the Song Begin. Although they've apparently described themselves as 'progressive', what I'm hearing here is an updated take on '70s pomp, with distinct Styx and Queen influences, some tracks (opener Let The Song Begin itself, the pounding Mesmerization Eclipse) noticeably better than others (poor-man's-Aerosmith Take A Walk, Still The World, 'anthemic' closer Black & Blue). Matters aren't helped by the entirely unnecessary intrusive, pounding drums, which seem to be attempting to ape an expensive production job, but fail miserably. Crack the Sky man Vince "Vinnie" de Paul is credited with Mellotron, but since I happen to know that CtS' old MkV was sold to Mike Dickson, it's hardly surprising that the strings and upfront flutes on the title track and flutes on Down To You and Black & Blue sound distinctly fake to these ears. Overall, Let the Song Begin has several strong points and some good material, but the band might need to work out exactly what they're trying to do before their next release.
Jon Brooks' now sadly outdated nom de plume, King of Woolworths, released a slew of EPs (and the odd album) over a brief period at the beginning of the 2000s, including 2002's Dew Point (yes, it's rude). Brooks' approach to electronica is firmly rooted in a very British, public-information-films-and-TV-incidental-music kind of way, not dissimilar to that of Sundae Club, although his work possibly predates theirs. All four tracks here exude a sparse, melancholic air, slightly spoilt by the programmed rhythms (yup, showing my age again), highlights including opener This Is Radio Theydon (named in honour of Theydon Bois, a hamlet just outside London, boasting possibly the oddest place-name on the Underground network) and closer Take The Strain (referencing a long-running ad for what used to be British Rail), apparently based around an old spoken-word relaxation record picked up in a charity shop. Mellotron? Brooks: "I've brought lots of new elements into the picture including a Mellotron." The strings on This Is Radio Theydon tell another story, however.
King Radio are The Divine Comedy after a lobotomy, refusing to temper their '60s-inspired loungecore with the faintest shred of wit or humour, let alone memorable songs. Peter Baldwin's supposed to play Chamberlin, but the flutes, vibes and strings on various tracks are clearly not the Real Deal.
The Kingsbury Manx play a kind of folk/indie/psych hybrid, with the accent (thankfully) on the folk and psych bits. The Fast Rise & Fall of the South is their fourth album; while it's a pleasant enough listen, the bulk of it fails to really grab the attention, although, in fairness, you may be expected to listen closely and let it grow on you over time. The one track that actually made me stop and listen is closer Ol' Mountainsides, but its feedback overdose served only to irritate, I'm afraid. Mike (Mikael) Jorgensen plays samplotron, with fairly major flute parts on 10008 and Animations, the latter adding strings to the mix. By 2013's Bronze Age, the band had, thankfully, dropped most of their indie influences, becoming more of a roots-rock outfit with occasional modern touches. The album's at its best on In The Catacombs, Solely Bavaria and Custer's Last, although, sadly, we get obviously sampled Mellotron flutes all over opener Weird Beard & Black Wolf and closer Ashes To Lashes (Tailspins).
Mexico's Kinky are apparently part of the Monterrey region's Avanzada Regia scene, which, as far as I can work out, seems to be some kind of Latin/alt.rock crossover. I've no idea how much more electric the band are on their studio recordings, by 2014's MTV Unplugged sees them on acoustic guitars and (electric) upright bass, although the keyboards are decidedly plugged. I'm unable to actually tell you whether or not this is any good; it bored the crap out of me, but I'm sure it's good at what it does, as I can't imagine MTV invite any old third-raters to do unplugged sessions. Nonetheless, even 45 minutes of this had me tapping my foot, and not in a good way. Best track? Nothing obvious. Worst? A particularly heinous modulated synth brass patch on closer Bien Pedo, Bien Loco might just give it the largest thumbs-down. Ulises Lozano is credited with Mellotron, but we're quite clearly hearing nothing of the sort, the strings on Yo Soy Lo Peor and Para Que Regreses barely even qualifying as Mellotron samples. Can I recommend this in any way at all? Not really, no.
On Momijigari, Kinzoku-ebisu play a highly developed form of progressive hard rock, linking King Crimson with Black Sabbath (spot the Master of Reality quotes in Rvokiranman), with touches of neo-prog in places, albeit not fatally. The side-long title track is probably the album's peak, although the two shorter (relatively speaking) pieces are no slouches, either. Makiko Kusunoki (presumably) adds very obviously sampled Mellotron strings, flutes, choirs and possibly cellos to all three tracks.
Kira Skov's second solo album, after her work in several bands, is a downbeat affair, perhaps roughly comparable to the quieter end of P.J. Harvey. The misspelled John Par(r)ish (appropriately, P.J. Harvey, Giant Sand) supposedly plays Mellotron strings on the title track, but they fail to convince.
Songs for Society is a perfectly ordinary, doesn't-stand-out kind of country/Americana album, that only steps away from its comfort zone on late-nite jazzy closer Meet Me At No Special Place. It's hard to tell where Jamie Edwards' alleged Mellotron might be: the strings on Not Where I'm At? Not a Mellotron, anyway.
Curt Kirkwood was/is leader of The Meat Puppets, one of America's best 'alternative' bands of the last three decades. 2005's Snow is his first solo album, essentially an Americana record, with the occasional burst of high(er)-energy stuff, notably Light Bulb, complete with trumpet solo. Michael Murphy is credited with Mellotron and Chamberlin, making it all the more surprising that both instruments are entirely inaudible across the record, so into 'samples' it goes.
David Kitt is an Irish musician who recorded his first album on his own, after completing a course in music technology, skills he displays on 2001's The Big Romance, an album overflowing with programmed percussion and the like. It doesn't start too badly, in a rather limp singer-songwriter kind of way, but becomes progressively more irritating throughout its length, with overlong tracks like Step Outside In The Morning Light and (especially) Whispers Return The Sun, Rest The Moon stretching the listener's patience to breaking-point. Kitt as 'Kittser' allegedly plays Mellotron himself, with strings all over Step Outside In The Morning Light and less so on You And The City, but they're quite obviously sampled, particularly on the latter. Well, he does specialise in music technology, doesn't he? This could've been a good album with fifteen minutes trimmed from its length (just shorten every track) and all programming removed, but as it is, it isn't.
Michael Kiwanuka makes the kind of music that Mojo mag go (and indeed, have gone) nuts over; imagine a modern soul/pop/jazz hybrid and you won't be too far off the mark. To be honest, the title track of his first release, 2011's Tell Me a Tale EP (the Isle of Wight Sessions) bored me, as did I Need Your Company, although Worry Walks Beside Me's laid-back jazz/blues feel suits his voice right down to the ground. More like this, please. Paul Butler plays a samplotron flute line on I Need Your Company.
Although Swedish, Christian Kjellvander resettled in the States in 1993, playing in Loosegoats until early the following decade. Songs From a Two-Room Chapel is his first solo album and given his choice of adopted country, it's not that surprising that it has a distinctly downbeat Americana bent, Kjellvander's singing voice sounding as American as you like. Opening with Homeward Rolling Soldier's solo harmonium and voice, the album never quite matches it throughout the rest of its length, although closer Rid runs it a close second. Kjellvander and Anders Tingsek are both credited with Mellotron, although its only obvious use is the strings on opener Homeward Rolling Soldier, fairly obviously sampled.
Klabautamann (named for a mythical Baltic sea-sprite) play 'atmospheric metal', for want of a better term (it isn't mine this time), combining elements of black, progressive and 'traditional' metal to form a sometimes interesting gestalt. I know death-grunting, or whatever it's called, is considered the norm in some metallic circles, but it does sound silly if you're out of your teens (doesn't it?), spoiling what might otherwise have been a really good album. Actually, it's far from all spoiled and has many worthwhile features, not least its unusual, angular riffs; maybe they'll finally grow out of it and make a classic one day? Fredy Schnyder (Nucleus Torn) adds samplotron flutes and strings to one of the album's best tracks, closer Noatun.
Although Frank Klare's EM is commonly referred to as 'Berlin School' (i.e. sub-Tangs), going by 1999's Area 2000: Music for Mystery Themes, I'm not seeing it. What I am seeing is a techno-influenced, very digital form of the genre, typified by the distorted vocal samples on Bigfoots End and the 'chiffy' synth patches on several tracks. But is it any good? Matter of opinion, as always, but I can't say it floated my boat to any great degree. On the samplotron front, we get distant choirs on Area 2000 Theme that sound more 'Mellotron' than 'generic'.
I'm afraid to say that 2000's Modular Music (recorded two-to-three years earlier) in general and Modul Two in particular exemplifies everything's that's bad about modern EM to me: interminable, with a complete lack of tonal or harmonic variety, adding up to utter boredom (although, in fairness, Modul Four partially makes up for the rest of the album's failings). Harsh? Doubtless, but washes of insipid string samples layered over uninspired electronic rhythms, topped off with Mellotron samples and synth warbles doesn't make for the greatest listening experience, at least around these parts. Sampled Mellotron on the first three tracks, with flutes on Moduls One and Three, choirs on Modul Two and both sounds on Modul Three.
2003's Memorial Dreams is a slight improvement, featuring several piano-led tracks, although the techno-ish Memorial Dreams 8 is a little unnecessary, at least to these ears. Three samplotron tracks, although I think it's fair to say that Klare uses the sounds as pads, a difficult trick with a real machine, with drifting strings on Memorial Dreams 2, more of the same with similarly drifting choirs on ...3 and choirs on ...8, for what it's worth. I found the same year's Berlin Parks something of a retrograde step, Britzer Garten and Mauerpark displaying a monotony that other dull EM artists can only dream of. Sorry? I'm missing the point? Oh well. More of those wispy samplotron strings on Victoriapark and Treptower Park, for what it's worth, which is very little.
Jeff Klein is an American singer-songwriter whose third (and to date, latest) album, 2005's The Hustler, is a bit of a mish-mash of styles, to be honest, veering from a primitive rock'n'roll/indie crossover (Nearly Motionless) through not-especially-mainstream pop/rock (Suzanne) to slightly menacing hushed balladry (closer Nobody's Favourite Girl). I'm not sure about some of the album's production tricks, notably the distorted drums on Cobalt Hue and the programmed percussion on Pity, but I'm sure Klein could always blame it on his producer. The album also features appearances from some of Klein's co-conspirators, not least Ani DiFranco, Mike Napolitano and Afghan Whig/Twilight Singer Greg Dulli, which may explain some of its quirks. Jacob Schulze (or possibly Schultze) is only credited with Mellotron on one track, Nobody's Favourite Girl, although it's basically inaudible. Ironically, however, it turns up on three other tracks, with strings on The 19th Hole, Nearly Motionless and Pity. Or does it? Not really, no; while the first two just about pass muster, the solo strings at the end of Pity give the game away quite comprehensively. I mean, these aren't even good samples... A partially good effort, then, with too many uptempo tracks that spoil the overall feel.
Klondyke's Guld is an album of harmless, folk-influenced Danish-language pop/rock, probably at its best on the Americana of Hidsigprop and Hvis Din Mund Gav Kys. Gæst Vincent adds sampled Mellotron flutes to 'bonus track' Hvis Din Mund Gav Kys (Radioversion), featuring distinctly different instrumentation to the regular version. Four years on, Verdensmand keeps the band's way with a melody, but loses the folk influence, replacing it with a kind of mainstream alt.rock. Listenable, but a little unexciting. Vincent's supposed Mellotron credit on Bukowki presumably refers to the track's deeply non-Mellotronic strings.
Once upon a time, Chris Knight's Americana might have been dismissed as mere 'country' by a contemptuous and dismissive rock press, but with the rise in acceptability of the new American folk, it's become a great deal easier to see his style for what it is: a true American voice that references Johnny Cash and Steve Earle rather than Nashville's glossy commercial orthodoxy. Knight has actually written songs for other country artists, but few of them are household names, at least on this side of the Atlantic. A late starter, he was 38 when his debut album, 1998's Chris Knight was released. Chock full of classic Americana, while the tunes are good, the lyrics are the album's highpoint, every song telling a story, mostly of hard times, many in the first person, although I believe Knight actually has a fairly conventional, college-educated background. Best tracks? Maybe opener It Ain't Easy Being Me, House And 90 Acres and Love And A .45, although, truth be told, there's nothing genuinely bad here, with even the most 'country' tracks being acceptable to those acclimatised to the new traditionalism of alt.country. Most heartbreaking lyric? Closer William, telling an all-too-real story while avoiding country clichés with aplomb. Tony Harrell plays samplotron, with a wobbly and barely-recognisable flute part on The Band Is Playing Too Slow (an attempt to synthesize the sound?). The reason to buy this? That age-old trick of combining the music with real human interest stories, which I suppose is the best country music's finest achievement.
Knight Area began as effectively Gerben Klazinga's solo project, although he brought in a dozen or so friends to help him with their/his debut, 2004's The Sun Also Rises. In what seems to have become the grand Dutch style, it's a typical modern neo-prog album, reference points including Marillion (old and new), IQ and the less adventurous bits of Spock's Beard, all of which adds up to a not-terribly exciting release, full of all the usual neo- clichés. Rather in the way that the album's full of Mellotron strings and choir that aren't actually a Mellotron, it's also full of progressive rock that isn't actually progressive rock at all, merely a pale imitation with all the life sucked out of it. Its worst crime is probably its wholesale cribbing of bits from IQ albums; there's at least one direct rip, although I'm having trouble placing it. Fantastically unoriginal. By their follow-up, 2007's Under a New Sign, Knight Area had become a septet and it shows; while still deeply in debt to their predecessors, it actually feels like a band playing this time round, with even the occasional innovation (notably the jazz organ part in the title track and the recorder section that opens closer A Different Man - Part II) to show for their new approach. Unfortunately, though, by and large it's still a typical neo-prog album, complete with ex-Cliffhanger bassist Gijs Koopman's Taurus pedals, utilised in true Pallas style, although it's decidedly more listenable than The Sun Also Rises. Plenty of samplotron, including a couple of solo choir parts, although none of it sounds particularly genuine.
A few chinks of light shine through 2009's Realm of Shadows; while mostly typical neo-, it has little moments of invention in places, showing the potential for expansion into the possibility of the band's own sound. The complexities of Antagony are a real step forwards, although there are far too many passages like the attempt at a stately guitar/synth/'Mellotron' choir part in closer Occlusion for the album to do any better than barely scrape three stars. The samplotron use is pretty much as before, with a particularly good string part opening Momentum, although they never use them for anything other than standard chordal parts. Come on, chaps, a little innovation please! The following year's privately-released double live Rising Signs From the Shadows (very witty, chaps) contains the larger part of the band's recorded legacy up to that point: disc 1 consists of the entirety of Realm of Shadows, played in sequence, disc 2 being a 'best of' their first two releases, merely highlighting how immature their early work sounds compared to their later. Incidentally, I've just realised that part of Antagony is highly reminiscent of one of REO Speedwagon's noxious early '80s hits, which is rather unfortunate. I see that vocalist Mark Smit doubles on keys, which explains how they manage to cover so many parts on stage; as a result, loads of samplotron, with strings and choir all over the place, actually sounding slightly less obviously sampled in a live setting.
2011's Nine Paths is, sadly, something of a retrograde step, no more exciting than or original than Under a New Sign, the undead ghosts of IQ being summoned forth yet again. Very little samplotron indeed this time round, with minor string usage on Please Come Home, The River and a brief choir part on Wakerun, the only full-on part being the strings on closer Angel's Call. 2014's Hyperdrive showcases a complete stylistic change into the world of prog-metal, albeit with a neo- influence, most likely due to the replacement of guitarist Mark Vermeule with Mark Bogert, while Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon, Star One) also guests. I don't know whether it has anything to do with the band's longevity (I believe they've been in existence since the '90s), but they've taken to their new style like a duck to water, producing a pretty reasonable effort in the process, although the overt neo-isms on closer Hypnotized do the album few favours. Best track? The Lost World opens with a melody that sounds like it's been lifted, almost note-for-note, from Death, The Reaper, from The Enid's mighty In the Region of the Summer Stars, although, given Robert John Godfrey's penchant for 'borrowing' existing works, it could well be a Gregorian chant in the vein of Dies Irie, (un)coincidentally also 'utilised' on Region.... Samplotron choirs open the album, also turning up on around half of its tracks, although they're a fairly minor player in the overall sonic picture.
Kodeine operate in that rather louche, loungecorey area occupied by (at the good end) The Divine Comedy and (at the less good end) Stereolab, finding themselves somewhere in the middle. Kodeine II is probably at its best on opener Move On and the faux-punky C90, but it's all a little unexciting, I'm afraid. Jayne Freeman's credited with Mellotron; are those occasional choir chords on C90? Definite samplotron strings on June Parade and upfront chordal flutes on Leia's Party.
Despite its title, Confessions of an Indiegirl is more of a soulful-end-of-country record, at its least dull on Breathe. I'm sure the lyrical content is all-important, but (and excuse me for being difficult) I tend to listen to music for the, y'know, music. Jason Hart plays samplotron flutes on Don't Give Up (and The World You Call Home?) and distant strings on Bari Koral's version of Gladys Knight's Midnight Train To Georgia
Going by Bella Maniera, Kim Koschka clearly sits in the avant-garde realms - not even avant-rock. Plenty of atonal pianos, clattering percussion and synth backdrops, should that be your thing. Halving its length might possibly make it more listenable, but then, I'm not this album's target audience. I think Koschka plays samplotron flutes on The Terminal Beach.
Gleaning much useful information about Samae Koskinen isn't the easiest of tasks as, like so many other 'local stars', there isn't much about him online that isn't in his home tongue, in this case, Finnish. It seems he's also the main player in Sister Flo, also unknown outside Finland, which probably makes him one of the country's current superstars. The aptly-titled Vol. 1 is a perfectly respectable modern pop/rock album, although I suspect knowing Finnish probably helps in its appreciation, as, like so many similar, the devil's in the lyrics. While there's nothing wrong with the record, it's far too mainstream for my tastes, but compared to some/most of the dreck you hear on the radio, it's a work of genius. Koskinen plays samplotron, with strings on Ulappa, Leikkipuistossa, Talven Jälkeen and Kummitus, plus flutes and strings on closer Aurinko. His follow-up, 2009's Elossa, is not dissimilar to its predecessor, its pleasant pop/rock feel and respectable songwriting largely unsullied by tedious modernisms. Koskinen on samplotron again, with major flute and string parts on Vapaamuurari.
Kosmos' debut, 2005's Tarinoita Voimasta, looks like a prog album and gets reviewed on prog websites. It is, however, a slightly progressive Finnish folk album, and probably all the better for it, featuring many traditional instruments alongside the more familiar tools of the trade. Most of the album's much of a muchness, to be honest, although the surprisingly early '70s hard rock of Seven Planets made me sit up and take some notice. The 'Mellotron' on most tracks, largely flutes and strings, is fairly obviously sampled (despite no fewer than three credited players), but nice to hear anyway. 2007's Polku is an improvement on its predecessor, I'd say, although it's hard to pick out 'best tracks'; there's nothing wrong with anything here, assuming you like folk-with-a-touch-of-prog. Although both Kimmo Lähteenmäki and Ismo Virta are credited with 'Mellotron', it's fake, but their samples are used well, with low strings and flutes on Omini'i Dakakos, murky choirs and strings on Eksyin and strings and flutes again on Nuoruus. They clearly aren't acquainted with Esa Kotilainen or I'm sure he'd have lent them his.
2009's Vieraan Taivaan Alla keeps up the quality, to the point where I can't understand why one of the specialist labels hasn't picked this lot up for wider distribution. The material is, if anything, even more varied than before, from typical Kosmosian opener Uneton Enkeli through acoustic strumalong Luovun, the melancholy, violin-fuelled Renée and storming twelve-minute heavy psych closer Vieraat. Both Aapo Helenius and Virta are credited with Mellotron, with strings (including some chords well below the Mellotron's range) on Uneton Enkeli, watery strings on Renée, solo flute and string lines on Yön Hiljaisuus, a flute line on Tuulisina Päivinä and strings all over Vieraat. 2012's Salattu Maailma shifts back towards a more folkish direction; pleasant, yet of less interest to the prog fan, I'd imagine. Highlights include the 'Mellotron'-heavy opening title track, the gentle Peili and the dark, lengthyish Uni, although more average fare (Loitsu, Tuuli) let the side down a little. Samplotron on most tracks, not even attempting to sound genuine much of the time. Possibly not Kosmos' best release, but by no means a bad record.
Kosmos Express were apparently a mainstream/Christian crossover act (as they say in music biz circles), although, thankfully, there isn't too much of the CCM about their second (and last) album, 1998's Simulcast. Unfortunately, there isn't too much of the dynamic or interesting about it, either, although it kicks off like it's going to be at least a passable US punk effort, an impression that doesn't last for long. The material's pretty one-dimensional, overall and what's with the Strawberry Fields Forever rip on Lifetime and the You Only Live Twice theme (probably via that stupid and then-contemporaneous Robbie Williams song) thing on The Way? Gene Eugene plays samplotron, with an overt flute part on In My Face and one or two other 'possibles', although all cello parts are real.
Richie Kotzen lets his Glenn Hughes-ish penchant for 'soulful rock' get the better of him on 1997's Something to Say, sadly. While the album has a few decent tracks, there are too many slushy ballads (notably Aberdine) for comfort, leading to a dissatisfying listen overall. Kim Bullard is the guilty party on the samplotron front, with an occasional string part on the aforementioned Aberdine.
Spell is a passable enough set of indieish singer-songwriter material, although I feel that Chris Kowanko would do better to listen to fewer of his indie heroes and more songwriters with some depth to their work. Samplotron strings on a few tracks, for what it's worth.
Filip "Flip Kowlier" Cauwelier's debut album, 2001's Ocharme Ik, is a pleasantly folky/jazzy outing, pretty much all acoustic, although the end of Moeder Lieve Moeder and Slichte Mins buck the prevailing trend. Sadly, the Flemish lyrics have probably alienated an international audience, although the music stands up perfectly well on its own. Better tracks include Welgemeende - its ascending cadences remind me obscurely of Tim Christensen's Dizzy Mizz Lizzy - and the surprisingly Gallic Barabas. Kowlier plays samplotron flutes on the title track.
Diana Krall is so famous that even I, a dedicated non-jazzer, have heard of her, although, after sitting through over an hour of Glad Rag Doll, I rather wish I hadn't. Don't get me wrong; it's impeccably written, played, sung, produced etc. etc., but I hate this kind of late-nite supper club piano jazz with a passion. Especially over an hour of it. Anything I didn't hate? Maybe the klezmer-esque death ballad When The Curtain Comes Down. Keefus Ciancia's Mellotron? Inaudible.
Poul Krebs is a Danish-language singer-songwriter; maybe better to be a potentially big fish in a small pond? Forbandede Vidunderlige Tøs is entirely harmless, at its best on the slower numbers, notably En Sporvogn De Kalder Desire. Krebs and Per Frost are credited with Mellotron, with samplotron flutes on Hvem Har Stjålet Det Glimt and closer Tilbage Til Virkeligheden. Fifteen years later, Asfalt proves that Danish-language, middle-of-the-road pop/rock really isn't cutting it here today, or, for that matter, any other day. There is precisely nothing about that stands out in any way, not even Palle Hjorth's alleged, yet entirely inaudible Mellotron.
Leif Edling from seminal Swede doomsters Candlemass put Krux together in 2002, producing a doom/trad metal crossover classic in their self-titled debut. I only hover on the edge of this world, to be honest, but the quality of the material is fairly evident; comparisons with the ever-improving Spiritual Beggars are decidedly valid. Basically, it's as heavy as fuck, but with sensible vocals (from Mats Levén) and guest keys from Carl Westholm. Now, I've found various sources claiming that he plays 'Mellotron, organ and Moogs', but the whole lot sound decidedly suspect to me, so I'm sticking this in here until/if I find otherwise. Standout tracks? Evel Rifaz seems to be a fuzz bass solo (whether or not you consider that to 'stand out' is entirely up to you), while the seven-part twelve-minute epic Lunochod (about the Russian space programme) is probably the most focussed piece here. Westholm's 'Mellotron' work consists of string parts added to most tracks, usually in a supporting role to the guitars. On Krux itself, the strings sustain at the end, displaying their deficiencies, although I was already somewhat suspicious as to their origin. As I said, I could be wrong - wouldn't be the first time... Anyway, if you're into that whole Sabbath/doom thing, you stand a good chance of loving Krux and real or not, the keyboards lift the whole thing to another level.
One of many singles released by Kula Shaker, or rather, their grasping record label, around the time of their excellent K debut, their cool version of Hush (Joe South via Deep Purple) featured a live b-side version of Govinda that appeared to feature the mighty Mellotron. I've been informed, however, that it's all samples and they never used one live. Probably never owned one, thinking about it. They're good samples for the time - eMu Vintage Synth? Anyway, a good track, with a 'Mellotron' part not on the studio version, making it worth hearing, assuming you can track a copy down. Old CD singles are a bugger to trace, aren't they? Could've done without Crispian's cringe-inducing intro, though...
After a softly-softly 2004 reformation, the band released their third album, Strangefolk, in 2007, and while it wouldn't be true to say they've recaptured their initial magic, it's a vast improvement on their second effort. The late '60s are still Mills' chief inspiration, and he still avoids 'doing an Oasis', making a very listenable album in the process, top tracks including the propulsive Die For Love, Song Of Love/Narayana and the fey title track. Bassist Alonza Bevan plays what has to be sampled Mellotron this time round, with strings on Die For Love, flutes on Song Of Love/Narayana and Dr Kitt, with distant choirs on Hurricane Season.
Moving on to 2010... Proving that the reformed band weren't just a one-off flash in the pan, they've followed up with Pilgrims [sic] Progress, a good, if slightly uneven album, highlights including opener Peter Pan R.I.P., Ophelia and cataclysmic prog epic Winter's Call, finishing things off nicely. Unfortunately, despite the album's nice, sensible length, it contains rather too many lightweight, faux-'60s efforts (Cavalry, Ruby), or rather generic indie ones (Modern Blues) for its own good. The only obvious 'Mellotron' is a big string part opening Winter's Call, but the even, long attack on every note gives the sample game away. So; a handful of great tracks, rather too many ordinary ones, probably worth hearing anyway.
Bird's Eye View is your standard-model modern singer-songwriter effort, its more upbeat efforts indistinguishable from the pop/rock mainstream. Scott Seiver's credited with Mellotron, presumably the sampled strings at the end of Under My Bed.
Heinz Rudolf Kunze's Korrekt is perfectly harmless pop/rock, with the occasional fashionable dance rhythm used to show he's not an old fart, although to the listener attuned to something a little more demanding, its appeal palls somewhere around the middle of its opening number. It isn't helped by its excessive length, particularly the near eleven-minute Die Peitschen, which seems to go on for ever. Matthias Ulmer's credited with Mellotron, with pitchbent strings on Mörderballade and Aller Herren Länder and a more 'regular' part on Nicht Mal Das, all sampled.
For some reason, I was expecting Kurai to be a 'typical' Italian progressive outfit (or RPI, if you frequent ProgArchives), but it turns out that they're towards the ambient end of the avant-rock spectrum. To be honest, seventy minutes of this is, ooh... at least forty too many. Plenty of interesting bits (in an ambient kind of way), but too many tracks that sound like someone dragging a paving slab across a concrete floor. Samplotron choirs on opener Herbert Quain, strings on La Folgore Nera and both, plus flutes, on closer White.
Miles Kurosky is Beulah's ex-frontman, his debut solo release, 2010's The Desert of Shallow Effects, carrying on his skewed psych vision. It's not a resounding success, to be honest, with too many songs that favour arrangement over composition, although the overall effect is perfectly listenable, if not that exciting, better tracks including I Can't Swim and The World Won't Last The Night. There are no fewer than three credited musicians on 'Mellotron' (which almost certainly isn't), Patrick Abernathy, Eli Crews and Nik Freitas. Between them they add flutes to She Was My Dresden and West Memphis Skyline, with flutes and vibes (alongside real ones) on Housewives And Their Knives, and is that church organ in the background on Dog In The Burning Building? The jury's still out on that one, I think. Generally speaking, fans of Beulah will probably like The Desert of Shallow Effects, but I think Kurosky will have to tighten up his songwriting before he's ready to produce any really memorable solo work.
Norway's Kwyet Kings (with a Euroboys connection), clearly named in honour of The Kinks' 1965 EP, Kwyet Kinks, are generally regarded as being a garage throwback outfit, although the lead track on their second single of 1994, Need My Lovin' Tonight, pays further homage by being a laid-back number with prominent acoustic guitar (as was the case with The Kinks' EP). The B-side tracks are both more typically garage, but still worth hearing. Eystein Hopland plays samplotron on the A-side, with background strings and flutes, alongside the ever-present Vox organ (or is it a Farfisa? I can never tell). All three tracks are included on Dionysus' 2000 compilation, The Singles'n'Shit; worth hearing for garage aficionados, but probably not for the Mellotron.