Release Date: Sep 2, 2016
Record label: Domino
Who says that kids today are just interested in iPads? Apparently Kenny Anderson (aka King Creosote)’s young daughter was presented with a toy man made from an apple, and was far more taken with that then she was with a new-fangled spaceman figure – and hence, an album title was born, and with it a concept of the battle between traditional and modern values, about whether life really was better when we weren’t seeing everything through a social media prism, and a look back to a time when people didn’t go to gigs simply to watch them through a mobile phone screen. As Anderson is possibly the most quintessential DIY musician around right now (his famously prolific output of over 40 albums released in the last 20 years included many self-released efforts simply released on a CD-R), you’d probably expect him to fall firmly on the traditional side of the fence. Yet Astronaut Meets Appleman is a more complex beast than that – an album where everything but the kitchen sink (strings, beats, even bagpipes) seems to have been thrown in, and yet it maintains a fierce focus.
Kenny Anderson aka King Creosote recently said of new album Astronaut Meets Appleman: 'Sometimes it doesn’t sound like a King Creosote record at all. It sounds far too good'. I’d like to disagree and agree that it does sound like previous KC albums, Anderson’s self-depreciating, seafaring poetry set to faux-folk music, but this time it all sounds, well, epic.
Fife singer Kenny Anderson’s breakthrough 2014 album, From Scotland With Love, was essentially a stirring love letter to his homeland. The follow-up continues his creative roll, and recording in the Isle of Mull and County Down has given the album a real Celtic swing: you can almost smell the Highlands in the harps, cellos and bagpipes. The songs swing from cosmic and ethereal to mischievously earthy: Anderson sings about wind turbines and the constellation of Orion, plus love, lust and a hint of bondage, and there are some rollicking one-liners: “Her jealous accusations know no bounds / Scarlett Johansson was never in the house.
After turning in one of the most focused records of his career with 2014's historically minded From Scotland with Love, Fife troubadour Kenny Anderson follows up with Astronaut Meets Appleman, a looser set whose earthy ramblings seem grounded more firmly in the present. In his prolific career as King Creosote, Anderson's D.I.Y. aesthetic has resulted in dozens of unedited small-batch releases peppered in among his more honed, higher profile albums.
Kenny Anderson, otherwise known as King Creosote, is approaching a not-especially-distinctive-but-culturally-important milestone this year: he is turning 50. While hardly as impressive as the 60-plus releases he has put out over the course of a 21-year career, the half-century mark is imprinted with existential import and the intimations of mortality, which echo throughout the introspective and adventurous Astronaut Meets Appleman. Of more significance still, and to add yet another existential wrinkle, Anderson recently became a father again.
If there’s anything that tickles the collective fancy of record collectors it’s a challenge, and there aren’t many in modern pop quite as taxing as tracking down all of Fife’s Kenny Anderson’s releases. Having founded the cult label Fence Records, Anderson spent the late 90s and early 00s releasing countless CD-Rs full of homespun, melancholic and witty songs of such appeal that they inspired fans to not only attempt to collect them, but to form a close-knit community of like-minded souls. The wider world started taking serious notice with the the autumnal, off-kilter folk of Diamond Mine, his 2011 collaboration with John Hopkins and 2014’s lush From Scotland With Love.
With a mere 40 albums already under his belt, King Creosote truly struck gold with 2011’s Jon Hopkins collaboration Diamond Mine and 2014’s From Scotland With Love, two records that perfectly encapsulated the charms of his wistful folk-pop. Astronaut Meets Appleman doesn’t quite continue that run of form. It begins and ends beautifully – slow-burning opener You Just Want shivers with Wicker Man-ish unease, the lilting sadness of closer Rules of Engagement is nicely enhanced with harp and strings – but a handful of songs, the poppy Love Life in particular, break the mood and the emotional connection.
King Creosote, aka Kenny Anderson, returns with his new album Astronaut Meets Appleman, the follow up to 2014’s critically acclaimed From Scotland with Love and the Mercury nominated Diamond Mine, his 2011 collaboration with Jon Hopkins. Soon to enter his fiftieth year, Anderson’s prolific output shows no sign of waning: after 60 albums and around 800 songs (this being a conservative estimate) he is already planning his next album, working on new tracks with his band up in his native Fife. Astronaut Meets Appleman explores the tensions and unity between tradition and modernity, the old and new, as King Creosote ultimately tries to figure out exactly where he figures.
Domino Records continue to give Kenny Anderson the artistic freedom to deliver such abstract, unusually constructed albums as this. Under the guise of King Creosote, he and his pals’ have recorded all around the British Isles giving this ‘cosmic’ record a fleshy Celtic flourish. Having talked to Kenny two years ago about the score of the film, and consequent album From Scotland With Love, this album inspired a few memories of that time with him.