SUN KIL MOON – ” I Watched the Film the Song Remains the Same “

Posted: March 10, 2016 in MUSIC
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Mark Kozelek, who used to front an epically moody band called Red House Painters, is known as something of a jerk. Onstage, when not singing in a voice like crumbling granite, he says things that usually end up offending somebody: hipsters, women, journalists, the band on the next stage. But on the records he now releases as Sun Kil Moon, he examines his life with plain-spoken brutality, saving the most cutting remarks for himself.

“I Watched the Film the Song Remains the Same” occupies more than 10 minutes of “Benji,” the album he released in 2014. It begins as the story of the first time Kozelek saw the Led Zeppelin concert film “The Song Remains the Same” as a child; it ends as a song about nostalgia, chronic sadness and the way people drop in and out of your life. One moment Kozelek’s admiring the electric piano on “No Quarter”; the next, he’s sharing memories of being a “very melancholic kid,” or apologizing for the time he punched a classmate in school. The way he writes isn’t so different from Karl Ove Knausgaard, also in his late 40s; both men spent long careers skirting the spotlight, then found new renown when they started excavating their own biographies for details.

So on “Benji,” Kozelek sings about his relationship with his parents, about buying lampshades, about death. A second cousin’s death sets him thinking about family; James Gandolfini’s sets him thinking about his prostate troubles. He approaches each topic as if flipping through a disorganized photo album, and the more insular and lived-in the details, the more enthralling they seem. At the end of “I Watched the Film … ,” he says he’s headed to Santa Fe to visit a friend he hasn’t seen in 15 years. Close Googlers can deduce that friend must be Ivo Watts-Russell, who signed Red House Painters to his 4AD label back in 1992; Kozelek, grave and grateful, says he’s going to New Mexico just to say thank you.

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