Monday, March 24, 2014

Significant Albums: Kaddisfly - Set Sail the Prairie (2007)

In becoming a fan of dredg in 2005, I ended up finding an active online community known as "Traversing" and like I had with some other bands, namely Dream Theater about 10 years before, I ended up enjoying talking about and learning of other bands who the fans of dredg really enjoyed.

And it may have been from a user named Spectre1982 aka Shane or some others, but I remember checking Kaddisfly out in the early months of 2006 with their record Buy Our Intention: We'll Buy You a Unicorn.
It may have been the identical trip to Cheapo in late 2005/early 2006 among the cds I picked up, 1 was a promo of Oceansize's Everyone Into Position and that Kaddisfly cd.

Both of them I liked, but didn't fall in love with right away. But I remember about Buy Our Intention, thinking, this band has a lot of interesting ideas, but I'm not sure if they have perfected them all on this album. From various kinds of songs, using piano, to hardcore screaming to a thematic or conceptual element.

And I'd guess I listened to Buy Our Intention at least a dozen times over the next 3 or more months. I even recall the band playing at Station 4 in February or March, but I missed them for some reason. I just recall thinking, parts of this album I find a bit low-fi or missing something, but there also were these great little sections I loved and found were worth getting through the rest of the songs/album to hear. Although I also recall part of why I didn't love everything on the record was Chris Ruff's vocals. His annunciation and  some of the vocal melodies did sound sort of *emo* for lack of a better word.

But, I would guess it was around May, a few users (not Shane) started talking about the next record for Kaddisfly. And even getting to hear it, and it was supposed to be released in the late Summer or Fall. I even think the band may have shared the song "Campfire" online, likely on myspace or their official site perhaps. And I know I found that song impressive, even more than anything on BOI.

And not too much later, I was able to hear the whole record and suddenly, I began to see and hear Kaddisfly in an entire new and better way.

The record was titled Set Sail the Prairie, which was the title of the 2nd-to last track on BOI in fact, and the 3rd-to-last was that album's title track. The last track also was connected being titled Horses Galloping on Sailboats, which many now know of course is still yet to be released (but it seems imminent sometime in 2014 now it finally will).

But as I, like many others had the chance to hear SSTP in the Summer of 2006, I became addicted to it. It was a record that took you on a journey, even just in terms of the themes, styles and titles of nearly each track, which represented a month on the christian calendar and seemed to capture that period of time's mood, weather (in North America at least) and such. Which added another dimension to this album and the band's sound.


Summer Solstice: this is a nice intro narrative poem, which kind of foreshadows many parts of the lyrics. the ending kind of tells me, there's this fast coming storm, that will be impossible to ignore.

Campfire (Junio) 4:43: the aforementioned impressive track, really has great energy. The rhythm is almost dance-able.

Welcome to your life, you better watch your steps. they can turn to fire, they can sear it through your shoes.

And through your feet Move up your legs and eat away your heart until you
You walk a path with love Then you could be happy And your feet and head and heart will
Get along comfortably And you might even breathe easily

Albeit obvious We hardly seek But hope to find you there
Albeit obvious If we don't speak No one can lend an ear
With anyone Or with anything Or underneath a budding tree
No matter how much you've thought Or how much you've grown Or how much you've learned
Or how much you think you known Or how much you've grieved
Or you've forgiven Or how much you love You will never know
Albeit obvious We hardly seek But hope to find you there
Albeit obvious We'll never die We'll merely disappear

I absolutely love the bridge and the way there's almost this soaring element to the vocals and guitars.  The "You will never knohhhhhhhhhhhh."

this song explores many moods, from happy to serious, to almost funny. It really sets the stage for the trip you as the listener takes, and even the story of sorts of an Owl's trip around the globe through different seasons, seeing different lifeforms, people, weather, messages, and even revelations from learning through experience.

Waves (July) – 4:37
This track opens with a nice piano intro.

The lyrics almost sound like gibberish. But the line "No prophet has ever been Accepted in his own village" I've always found interesting.

edit: thanks to a passionate fan/online friend, he pointed out the opening lyrics which are sort of a word play (and I still struggle with at times what they sound like) actually spell out alphabetically.

(An)apostolic Beliefs Conjure Divine Earthly Faith... yeah, yeah Gainsaying Heavenly Intu-, intuition Juxtaposing... yadda-yadda-yadda-ya Kindred Love Make No Opposition Providing Quizzical Rationality Stunning Treasure Undy-, undying Virtuous Will X, Y, Z, oh...

I listen to this song and picture canoeing with a formidable tide. Aaron Tollefson's guitar riffs and Beau Kuther's snare pattern drive the chorus of this song really well. Very tight rhythms and interplay between the rhythm section and the vocal melodies. I also often think the line "But here's the thing with time" Later on they reference time and needing it (Clockwork?) and how its value is made from perception.

An owwwwl over the hill knows the moon And clear as a river, like flowers, we bloom
Fahhh-ster when we're farther from the shayyyde Before you growwww ohhhld, don't get snipped and sohhld.

I really love the sort of echoing, and banging guitar lines on this song. As I grew to really get into Kaddisfly's music, I think one of the biggest parts were Aaron Tollefson and Kelsey Kuther's dual guitar assault; they use a  variety of moods and textures, even within 1 song. And "Waves" is one of many examples of that throughout SSTP. They use what sounds almost like a wobbly echoing effect so well.

Waves eventually leads to this cool almost reggae-like section, which beyond the band's influences, I suppose part of that on this song, and many others on this record, it is overtly bring various cultural styles of music.
Since we all are dealt zero sum hands We should have a little compassion
But people sure can be incompetent At understanding this concept
Be offended by the things we've done Be offended by the shade of our thumbs

Be offended by just where we stand One day, I swear

I've probably said "One day I swear" more times I care to admit, but the lyrics there do speak to many ideals, in wondering why people don't understand your interests, tastes or perspectives, for better or for worse. I suppose the band may have dealt with some of that personally as well.

Harbor (Agosto) – 4:35 This song starts off with this cool off-beat rhythm.
It goes into this section that the lead part is almost played on the off-beat. "Under-stah-annndeeen is only comeeen when you dispose of the breathless bahhhhdeee."

The part where Chris Ruff repeats "when you deees-.pohhz uhhhhv a boh-ah- boh-awww-boh-awww-bawwww-deee" and the guitars get rather playful.

Then the little piano part comes in before 'Be aware, Be aware, Be aware"..which takes it back to the "Understandeeeeeeen.." chorus again.

The last verse the lyric "At this point. I'm off" I usually heard as "This boy. A moth" lol, which I suppose says something about the annunciation of so many of the lyrics and vocal melodies/phrases singer Chris Ruff uses, but I think for those who actually got into Kaddisfly's music, those silly little aspects to the music are so secondary, that he could be singing in a made up language and it wouldn't matter, because the music and the actual vocal sounds work on many levels past that.

The almost ragtime piano in the bridge is another part of this song that I enjoy as well.

Birds (Septembre) – 6:03:
Naturally, with a song titled "Birds," they use what sounds like a bird-sound of chirping as an intro and throughout other moments on this song. I guess overall, I have always enjoyed the soaring, methodical tone of this song. It almost is a narrative of a bird's perspective.

As we said a prayer the night gave us a song and gave us a voice so we sang along.

This tune is like 1 beautiful ballad-jam of some kind, that I'm sure could have lasted twice or 3 times as long.
Maybe my favorite part of it though is the soaring almost ethnic sounding female chanting vocals with the acoustic guitar, which eventually you hear her sing the chorus from Campfire.
Albeit obvious We hardly seek But hope to find you there

I get goosebumps every time I hear that part. Although it kind of sounds like the journey of a traveler on horseback in the old west at the same time.

Clouds (Heshvan) – 3:41
Maybe the heaviest song and heaviest part of this record with the opening riff. I know they sort of took the idea of going from the warmth of Summer and how in October mother nature can be a bit cruel in the changes in climate. Also the way "Birds" being probably the quietest or softest track into "Clouds" being the heaviest, was likely intentional, and a cool dynamic. Although I got into a terrible habit of always having to turn the volume down when that opening riff came in. I suppose it was due to not having it on so loud, my co-workers wouldn't have to ask me to turn it down.

But beyond that riff, I really grew to enjoy "Clouds." The chorus "After all that we've said and done, the sky still gives us the sun every morning when we wake up. So feel privileged that we're the ones, who are given so much and yet are so undeserving.  Including on the 1st verse the echoing "whoah whoah whoah" I often think of this song for.

Also the thick, driving, forceful., angry guitar riffs lasting more or less throughout the whole track. It really does show yet another side to their sound. I've seen a number of bands who people hear or compare Kaddisfly to. I suppose this may be one of the tracks that people heard Incubus in.

Empire (Noyabr') – 4:25
Maybe the catchiest track on here, and the one they made an official video for. I came to the point, introducing anyone to them and this record, this had to be the song to suggest 1st.  It's really catchy and happy sounding. Among other things, it features some great high-hat patterns.

We are quiet like birds With swiftly tilting minds And wings that are made of humility, yeah
We are quiet like birds With secrets like butterflies And we can only fly if we use our wings

The wording "a decent fashion" is another example, where the lyric's sound didn't matter, but I always hear "80's in fashion," lol.

That chorus is just so bloody strong and ear-wormy, I just wondered how most music lovers couldn't enjoy it. And the little piano part in the bridge stands out as well.

How big is a rainbow? How big is a smile? And can you tell me which weighs more?
We can all fly if We just believe

That last line, very much makes me think of the title of their 1st record Did You Know People Can Fly?

"Winter Solstice" – 1:20: This is a nice interlude piano piece from Chris Ruff that leads to the big epic track"Snowflakes."

Snowflakes (Desember) – 7:48: A little like "Clouds," the intro riff is extremely heavy. But then it transitions well, mainly a few minutes in after the 1st verse with the guitar melody and the line "A body's not a home Free will is not an art The wind can either help this sail or rip it apart...We're not as much a part of Earth as we see fit."

The band almost sound like a machine on this song. So many layers and the tones sound really thick.
"Human experience can be a misleading cartoon The true nature of things shadows our human"
Right after that line, what I suppose could be called a guitar solo, just gets crazy and insane. It's like noise, but refined or something. Because I'm not into noiserock really (I'm looking at you St.Vincent), but this song and that part of the song, over some time, totally grew on me. It's really badass.

The chorus comes back in and eventually leads to this gorgeous piano section, which is among the best transitions and use of dynamics on this album. I totally love that section (and I'd almost go for it to last longer than it actually does of course). But the band then finds a dynamic call-and-response between ragtime piano, and heavy riff back and forth in conversation. I remember distinctly hearing some little trailer clip, likely around or after hearing "Campfire," or them playing that example of the quick change in dynamics in a split second. It's clever editing and mood changing that works incredibly well.

Eventually the heavy riff leads to a HUGE climax of noise, energy and chaos.

Via Rail (Janvier) – 5:23 My 1st and still probably my favorite Kaddisfly song. This song is so grand and majestic. It's like a fairy tale or prayer for the world. I suppose representing January fits that, sort of looking to have a good new year, etc.

The way it marches on in the narrative and the drums works so well. Even the vocal harmonies I often get goosebumps from hearing because they sound so dreamy.

I guess my strongest among many memories about this song is playing it a number of times 1 in July or August of 2006 and thinking, from the bridge-on, the crazy off-beat section is like King's X and Faith No More and a bunch of other bands wrappd into one. And I thought if the progheads heard this, they should catch on. Which I suppose it may have been this song or others, that did it to a point, but sadly probably not what I figured (silly me).


The nest of clay was forged into eternity atop the corner of the world, while the ocean floor was now covered..covered in gold, silver, and sand, yes it was!

the ocean floor was now covered in gold, silver, and sand.

The nest of clay was forged for eternity atop the corner of the world, while the ocean floor was now covered..covered in gold, silllllver..silver and gold..silver, and goh-h-ohhh-old

So build a house of clay and never ever, ever, ever uhhhhhhnder-estihhhhmayyyyte
what the dead can do for the living. If you listen closely you'll hear the harmony of
every man and woman who's passed away You better believe it's a song for the living.

The riff in the outro is so badass.

The lyric about the nest of clay withstanding the heat, almost reminds me of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with the Holy Grail not being made out gold or silver, but Clay "That's the work of a Carpenter" lol as Harry Ford says.

But that vocal phrasing and line is crazy badass and so infectious. Even the line about every man and woman who passed away..and it's a song "for the living" etc sort of speaks out, in a profound and desperate way. It really could be memorable and important, if it and maybe its message of some kind, actually found more ears and resonated with people, younger people namely, but unfortunately Kaddisfly were/are a little too obscure at this point for that to happen sadly.

Silk Road (Pharvarì) – 5:27 Igt "Life is not a perfect game."
I often think this song represents India or some middle eastern perspective.

Fauuuuult isn't the emerald sky It is the ivory lie told through our eyes when there's no other way out, there is another way out your feet are the ground, one field of white

Crimson solitude lends yellow waves Patches of what was green now is white And what was future now is hindsight Brick and turquoise, dancing violet strands Bluish topaz acquiescent nerves bleed magenta

That 1st verse uses the term "Crimson Solitude" which also is the title of a track from BOI, which is another tie-in or part of the concept between the 2 albums.

I love this track nearly as much as "Via Rail," for different reasons I suppose.

so avoid the ones with the quick tongues those who talk away, way too much pour one out for those who've been blessed with the gift  of silence and the grace to use it.

This line referring to those who talk too much, for one, I often think of the lyric "sometimes we talk so damn much" from the following track "Mercury." But also from a literal sense, I suppose it can be referring to people who are fast-talkers with an agenda. For money or persuasion. Even in a religious motivation. I suppose the point of this being in some middle eastern perspective and religion being so visible in that part of the world's culture (or just spiritual beliefs) it might suggest coming from an important spiritual person. Whether it be the Dali Lamma or someone like Deepak Chopra even.

we are the speed of light and we ride frequencies like the wind

Eventually a part this song includes these little slightly jazzy/cloudy synths over Chris's vocals. And from the last words "just wait" the band goes into such a magical climax with the soaring guitar and piano layers. and then the chorus

Fauuuuult isn't the emerald sky It is the ivory lie told through our eyes when there's no other way out, there is another way out your feet are the ground, one field of white

Mercury (Sān Yuè) – 5:07 Many people I used to notice adore this track. And I've always liked it, although after the previous two I think it hurt my ability to enjoy it as much as I could have. That being said, I still like it and it did grow on me over time.

"Sometimes we talk we talk so damn much..that we forget for what we ever started talking in the first place...

In a land of pirates, I'd be more concerned With what comes from your mouth than what you put in So flood your deck with quips fit for royalty I bet your ship sinks with the wave of so many

Maybe my favorite section is the last verse

There's a battle in a backyard alley Brothers fight over what's not there These siblings will be sad to find that war is the winner We keep fighting for position in a human race that never began Where the start and the end are both made up of the same thin air

The reference to a battle of a human race that never began is kind of compelling. The music and concept of this album and BOI is kind of about our planet Earth, life on it, how it evolved and humans evolved. So that line does speak to it in a bunch of metaphorical ways. It kind of reminds me a little of some of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (or 1 of the other Douglas Adams books) when they meet the cavemen if I recall and trying to teach them how to play checkers I think, but don't recall exactly. I mean the War part, and Pirate Ship maybe not so much, but just the start of human evolution. BOI is the beginning or past, SSTP is the present, and Horses Galloping is the future.

Clockwork (Sì Yuè) – 3:46 Kind of an odd track, and transitional.

They say, "wait for such and such an event to happen,"
Call their bluff After all, the end is the beginning, my friend Oh, we exist in four...

There are a million points of view And a billion conversations
But there is only one end It will end one day  There's one reason

We live in three dimensions But we exist in four, not three, oh...

The line "after all the end is the beginning" kind of hints towards the 12 month cycle is coming close to being reset. The line "we exist in four..." being 4 dimensions, not 3, is some kind of step into another evolutionary point. Like the character has a revelation of some kind ala Neo in The Matrix or you name the Scifi story.

Musically, the section that starts "There are a million points of view" almost sounds kind of math-rock like, which for a song titled "Clockwork" it sort of fits as mathrock can be described like it's using a clock or clockwork in terms of the emphasis on rhythms.

The outro also features albeit brief but still wonderful energy. And then slows down saying to grab a cocktail and then we hear some woman interviewing or chatting with 1 of the guys, I think Beau, Kaddisfly's drummer about their albums and mentioning it being followed by "Horses Galloping"...which to me totally foreshadows what is or should come. But again, goes back to BOI and the last 3 tracks. But on this album, transitions into "Forest" which mentions the title of the album.

Forest (Maй) – 11:13 
Very epic track. "It is our birthday"

"We will be the ones with our hands raised to the sky"

It will be the end of the world, it will be the beginning of it all. Don't let ignorance harm you, ignore your circumstance. Don't. Don't be. Don't be Summer.

This song is like a march and statement that more or less anything that comes your way, shouldn't stop or affect you.

The driving guitars and drums continue  Namely after one of the parts with the line "Don't be Summer."

That angry, intense movement then leads to this wonderful, peaceful sounding section, which is another great use of changing dynamics and time. It also includes some Eastern or ethnic percussion (xylophone? although I also know they used things like melodica and some other non-traditional percussion at points on this record, so I can't be sure).

Then this great clean-toned guitar part comes in and the vocal:
"You were born today, to Set Sail the Prairie..."..which gets really dreamy including vocal chants.

It will be the end of the world, it will be the birth of it all, oh of it all

Then the big climax starts up and gets bigger and bigger and so great. That repeated section with the way the percussion guitars and increasing of layer after layer, including some almost Pat Metheny-like trumpet-synthy guitar parts.

Two big things that I always think of when listening to this song and the ending in particular. For one being I think of some kind of journey and reaching a point of getting out of a vastly big and long Forest or Woodsy trek, and reaching the point of destination.

2ndly from a musical standpoint, the way that great line is repeated I dunno, 25 times or something, but eventually stops and we just hear the guitars and drums and such, I always hear it beyond that point until the very end of the album. I recall telling Chris Ruff that once and he was really moved by it. Maybe it's a timing thing (is in 9? I forget what meter it is in), but it fits rhythmically perfectly for the rest of the track.

And of course, the last few seconds you hear the galloping horses which I suppose pretty much is assumed will be referenced if not started off on the Horses Galloping on Sailboats with, when that record does come out.

In conclusion, this record kind of possessed me, at a time a ton of music sort of did. But I don't think I ever was so taken in by a record and had such high hopes for the response to it. Ultimately, the response maybe wasn't what I envisioned or hoped for, but as time has passed since that period of 2006 and 2007, I've come to not worry and be happy about its place in modern rock music and my personal love of music and great albums.

It was and still is such an inspirational record and so many songs stand out in diffrent ways. Even the big concept, which the band themselves may not have desired to overshadow how great the music is, still is fascinating enough for me and many others. I think it'll probably be one of those records that will be loved by a niche audience for many years. Whether Horses Galloping helps or hurts its legacy, I somehow doubt it. I even wonder how HGoS will stack up, but it really won't matter a ton because how much of a landmark record this is.

video forces you to click on Youtube.