Mark Kozelek – Live at Biko
Mark Kozelek is no stranger to live records. In the last two years alone, he’s put out live albums recorded in Sweden, Australia, China, and Denmark. True, some of these releases are bonus discs available only through Caldo Verde Records. But that’s not counting earlier live material monikered as Mark Kozelek or Sun Kil Moon. Now, there’s a new release. This one was recorded in Italy in April this year. So, what’s different? Well, with one exception it contains only songs from very recent studio albums. There are six from Benji released earlier this year; two from the album with Desertshore from August last year; three from Perils From The Sea with Jimmy Lavalle from April 2013; and two from Among The Leaves from May 2012. The exception is ‘Ålesund’ from 2010’s Admiral Fell Promises, which to be fair is hardly delving deep into his back catalogue. In fact, at one point he announces that he’s going to playing a track from an old, old album. “It came out about a year and a half ago”, he jokes. So, while the traditional cry at gigs might be ‘play some old’, Mark Kozelek has been on such a creative run of late that for once ‘play some new’ is really welcome. What’s also welcome is that it’s just him and his guitar(s). That’s nothing new for Kozelek. In fact, some of his best tracks of late have told the story of him lugging his guitars round from venue to venue, playing solo shows. ‘By The Time That I Awoke’ from Perils From The Sea, being one of the most memorable. But while his gigging has been solo, his most recent albums have been mainly collaborative. So, here we get a chance to hear different versions of his new songs. Perhaps the best ones are from Perils From The Sea. There, keyboards and synths dominated. Here, songs like ‘Gustavo’ and ‘Ceiling Gazing’ maintain their melody, but come across in a new fashion. So, that’s new versions of really new songs. That’s good. Thoughtful. In the end, this album nicely captures a particularly fruitful period in Mark Kozelek’s musical life. Oh and by the way, there’s a Christmas album scheduled for release in November.