Once again, you give me what I did not know I needed. And once again I am thankful, humbled, inspired.
Thank you sir, may I have another?
-Yogi in Seattle
I don't love it. It's good and it's interesting but it's no "Sluggo" and that's what I was expecting and is the direction MK should be heading if he's trying to build an audience. That high-octane hybrid fusion of progressive/jazz/ powerpop is what MK does best (probably THE best in the whole stinky world).
Here's part of a review I've posted on various BBs throughout the web: "the album meadners from achingly beautiful solo piano to jangly acoustic rock to spacy harpsichord laden cocktail jazz to heavily orchestrated horror movie music to difficult syncopated hardcore jazz played on toy instruments to early 70's sounding straight ahead blues rock jamming, heavy on the electric piano. Get the picture? You want adventure? This is the place." Hmmmm, doesn't sound like I don't like it but in reality, I'm a bit disappointed.
Here's why, another section of the review reads: "It's like looking at a really great artists sketchbook, the work might not be fully realized and it may not all tie together but this CD has more exciting ideas that he just tosses out there and throws away in 30 second snips than many bands with multiple writers come up with in their whole careers!" Again, it doesn't sound bad but look deeper into it and I guess what I'm trying to say is; I don't want a sketchbook, I want a finished piece of art! When I think of all the cool tidbits here that he could/should have expounded on, there's enough ideas here for 10 albums! Kind of squandering his prodigious talent or is he just showing off?
Mike is so damn good that he's leaving mortals like me behind. I sense a bit of this in a lot of the reviews I'm reading- "I love it but I don't understand it" kinds of statements. Careful Mike, you might just be going too obtuse for even your fans. I also notice that most of the reviews say that the "Nonkertalk" disc helped alot in "getting it". Well, I don't have it (and most people won't) so I didn't have the luxury of having Mike tell me what the songs were about or what the mood being conveyed is etc. If music has to be explained? It's like when a joke has to be explained...
3.5 stars (out of 5) but, I won't bother playing it for most of the people I know because they just won't get it where as, "Boil that dust speck" (4.5 stars) and especially "Sluggo" (5 stars) really turned some heads when I turned people on to them. I for one am anticipating the next BFD album and am hoping that Mike's music writing gland is still secreeting so copiously when that time comes. It should kill.
Mike had the idea for an album like this when he was 12? It must have been festering for awhile and I'm glad he was able to get it out of his system. I won't pretend to be a music critic and go into moment by moment details. I've listened to it with a variety of different people and most of them don't seem to get any enjoyment out of it except for a chuckle here and there. All I know is that Nonkertompf is fun to listen to. It's the way I want to put my next project together. Thank you for the inspiration, Mr. Keneally.
Let it suffice to say that I really love "Nonkertompf". I was really intrigued by "Nonkertalk" when Mike said that maybe "Sluggo" is bright because it is red and "Nonkertompf" is dark because it is black.
Hey Mike - go pick up the Crayola Big Box of Crayons - 96 different brilliant colors. By my calculations you have quite a bit of work ahead of you (at 73:56 per color, that's 4 days, 22 hours, 17 minutes 36 seconds of music). Hop to it!
Anxiously awaiting the periwinkle album,
'making love to jewel' sends me to the carters singing 'will the circle be unbroken,' and since that is not such a bad place to be, i stay longer.
My lord, how do I begin?
I've been holding off because I wanted to digest this album some more but Imight as well jump in now because I think it's gonna be a while before I can be even remotely "objective" (like that concept even exists in reality) about this album.
It seems fitting for me that this album would be such a personal creation. It's been just over a year since I had my head ripped off in a back yard in Butler, Indiana and this - the first Mike Keneally album since then - feels almost meant to be for me after that. Of course, Mike made this for himself, not for some guy halfway across the country who has put up a ridiculous amount of fan-drooling for him on the Web in the last year.(you can read my Mikey-love-fest psychosis at www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Birdland/2505) But I'll still call it an album for me if for no other reason than because I've got serious ego problems. Is that OK? :)
I count myself extremely lucky to have had some personal contact with the man who made Nonkertompf and I'd go so far as to call him my teacher in the last year. I've learned lots. My life has been in a constant state of change in the past year and Mike Keneally has been the soundtrack. And here comes Nonkertompf which both thrills and frightens me because it sounds so much like the music I wish I could make myself.
Ron spoke of how this album sounds like the music in his head. I'm in total awe of how much that rings true for me as well. The first time I heard Blue Jean Baby (at several thousand feet above somewhere in the Southwest US on my way home from LA) I couldn't BELIEVE what i was hearing. This music sounded like a long lost friend. It sounded familar in a very strange and wonderful way. I've heard this song's brother or sister somewhere in my mind
before. Mike, you amaze me.
There's so many highlights, but some particulars stand out in my mind at this moment. Self 'n' Other just flat out rocks and I love the groove and I love the melodies. The Knife & Drum starts off with a killer Crimson-ish riff (Yep Mike, I'm gonna take you up on that and learn this bass line. How can I resist?) and ends with some organ stuff out of the ELP book. This makes the Progboy in me happy (Progboy and Progboy's Mellotron sold separately) and in fact I'd go so far as to say that with this album (and let's be honest, he's done it many a time before) Mike has captured the true spirit of what made 70s progressive rock great. For all the bad press that genre gets, it has always seemed to me that at it's best, prog-rock was (and is) about discovery, about reaching for something beyond, about finding one's individuality. At it's worst, it could be really self-indulgent, and I'm sure that some people will say that about Nonkertompf, but I don't hear that. Self-discovery? Yes. Self-indulgence? Nah, you must be kidding. I HOPE there's a difference between the two, you know.
The album is full of delights and full of surprises. The night before I first heard it, I told Mike that the 3 minute "Nonkertour" on the site made me think that this was exactly the kind of solo instrumental album I thought he would make. Then I heard it and realized that I was wrong - at least 75% of this album is NOTHING like I expected. And it makes me happy. Expectations are stupid things anyway. I'm so glad that I got something to challenge me, to make me think, to make me grow. That's what it's about, isn't it? We construct so many things in our heads about what music Should Be or what it Should Not Be. But isn't that all just a pile of crap when an album comes along that proves out precious constructs wrong?
I've spent the last 29 years living in fear, living in self-hatred and with an extreme lack of confidence. What I saw a year ago in Butler, Indiana began a change in that. It's a slow process to be sure, but it's happening for me - I'm learning to live, I'm learning to grow, I'm learning to trust my instincts, I'm learning what it really means to be a human being. And Mike Frigging Keneally has been the key to it all. Nonkertompf is another chapter in Mike's development, and it feels like another chapter in mine. It inspires me to no end because I wanna feel this way more often. I wanna be the best musician, the best writer, the best PERSON I can be. That isn't always easy, and I've fallen on my face more than once in this last year and I know that I will probably continue to because that's just the way things work. But as long as I have this music, and this man as an example, I can feel that I'm not alone in this silly thing called Life. Mike Keneally, you are a treasure. And I'll love you always.
Music is the best,
Dear Keneally the Musical Beast,
This is my first album of yours (although I have heard and seen you w/ G3). I would just like to say that upon listening to NK, I was severly dissapointed. Heheh...actually, I was blown away! I cannot stop listening to it! Just wanted to let you know that your incredible imagination has managed to sqeeze out a great record. Also, I have a question. On track #5, what crazy instrument is that? The only thing I can guess is midi guitar (sounds very frippish). Please answer.
Mike Keneally is either a mad scientist or musical daredevil (we are not talking chops here).With Nonkertompf he takes an improv approach to writing though some tunes were composed in advance.The cd sounds like something that would happen if Anthony Phillips and Bill Nelson had a head on
collision and later met for lunch Some of the material ,such as "Click" would not be out place alongside material from Phillips "Private Parts and Pieces"series of albums while other stuff such as Rake Bannuh's men" could easily remind one of Nelson's ambient work,only with more spunk and instrumentation. '"Clumpy, clumpy o" sounds like twisted Vince Guaradli."Self n' Other "sounds like he snuck BFD into the studio.
The cd is a daring one man show and it delivers what we might or might not expect from an MK offering.It is as though Mike has has created an audio playground and has invited us to come and listen to what he has done .
I was gonna write down a list of all the records Nonkertompf reminds me of while not sounding like any of them, but after 40 or 50 it seemed pointless. The single record NK reminds me most of, not for the music but for its effect on me, is Talk Talk's "Laughing Stock". The first time I listened to it (both of them) tears came to my eyes because there's this underlying emotion that sort of reaches into you and rips out your spine and stomps on your lungs leaving you all breathless and jiggly.
At the same time I knew I wasn't "getting" it, and subsequent listens, while familiarizing me with the melodies where they appear, also have not helped me to "get" it. The difference is, with Talk Talk I didn't really like much of their other stuff, so I had no frame of reference or familiar sounds to hang onto. And maybe because of that, with NK I have experienced the "creative juices flowing" effect someone alluded to earlier in Nonkeroni.
I've put it aside for a while (as I did with LS) and I would expect it's going to be one of those albums I keep coming back to when I need a reminder I'm not as sophisticated musically as I like to think I am, and want to feel like I've landed on some alien planet. Or maybe I'll slice it up into 5 or 10-minute chunks and insert them into my MK mix discs so I start to "get" it via osmosis. Or maybe it'll get a permanent place next to the CD changer for when a party has gone on a little too long. ;)
As Laurie Anderson used to say, "Welcome to Difficult Listening Hour." I'd buy 3 or 4 more albums as abstruse as this one, just for that jolt on the first listen. Mike, don't ever stop changing.
Before I begin, let me make it clear that I'm not a writer, and words fail me all the time. It's much easier for me to listen to music than to talk about why I like it so much. Reading the other Nonkerposts gives me inspiration, but the thought process doesn't make it to the keypad all that well... here goes...
For years I've been creating my own mad masterpieces, attempting to see how far from the formula I can get, but I haven't gone nearly as far as this CD does. Perhaps because I'm less than 10% the musician he is. Nonkertompf shows me just what you can get away with and still call it music. Music is a "theory" you know, and Mike knows it too. There are 35 "individual moments" on Nonkertomph, but you almost can't tell. It's more like one continuous piece of music. I can't imagine listening to pieces of it, and not the entire thing. It flows. Its all one object that speaks its thought, and over time, it will reveal itself more and more. Some of it is beautiful and infectious, like "Click" and "Drumsticks", while some of it is quite scary, like "Odon" and "An understanding of my self as other". This CD is unlike anything in Mike's category. It's very adventurous and far beyond anything Mike's done so far. Except maybe the Mistakes... maybe... Whether or not it's a masterpiece remains to be seen. The next BFD CD is coming out soonly right???, -and we have countless years of future MK music to look forward too...
But I wonder... is this destined to become Mikes "Desire Caught by the Tail" CD? -Or FZ's "Lumpy Gravy"? Or even his "Mingus Plays Piano" album? -A soon-to-be-long-lost MK CD, full of weird shit, only talked about by the "people who know"? (Mike is that way now actually... ) Mike has created something strange for strangeness sake, -and because he can. And although we Kenealliacs understand what's going on, -that ideas flow from Mikes brain to his hands without any hesitation whatsoever, therefore, music like this is the sound of Mike thinking about music, -what will future fans think?? Does it really matter? Isn't that what brilliance is all about? I cant help but to think that much of this CD represents any number of future MK/BFD songs, -or pieces of songs,- and certain parts of the CD could easily show up live. "Click", "The Knife and Drum" and "Self n' Other" would be decapitating live!!
This music isn't rock, or jazz, or pop, or anything as identifiable as that. It's simply "Mike Keneally's Music." The only other artist I can think of that has created his own category has been Frank Zappa, and that's saying a mouthful. Mike is Da Man, and I KNOW it, and I'm GLAD I know it! Mike is a virtuoso on at least two entirely different instruments, -guitar and keyboards- plus he sings at the same time, and plays drums and bass all over this CD. Nonkertompf (426/500) is truly inspirational for me. I plan on listening to this CD every time I feel my own ideas are in a rut.
Orlando, FL -when I'm home...
Mike I really enjoyed your new album ,it's totally you man. I can hear so many little Kenneallyisms there that were present in your last albums, only they seem way more personal now. anyways mike I am always looking for something new to feed my hungry ears, and I must say I think there pretty full right now. I ve had it a day and I have proably heard it about 4 times already,.I work at a cd store so I just kept it in pretty much all day. Mike I am glad you did this album it was a really big step in a very cool direction that I am sure will have a huge impact on the direction I would like to take my compostions. Thank you so much!!!
carl in va
Well, I've had a week or so to digest "Nonkertompf" in all of its marvelous splendor, and after repeated listenings, I have this to say (totally random thoughts, mind you):
Is this "Phaze One?" I sure hope so.
I'll go on record now and state that "I love it here" is the outstanding BEST on this album. A truly amazing piece. I'm not so certain I'd want to hear 74 minutes of it, but, hey, it just leaps out at you at the right time. Well, "Naked horse" and "Oprah talks to teens..." are real good too. And what about "Blue jean baby?" Where the hell did that one come from?
I think Mike and Scott misspoke when they said this album is "dark" and "weird." Pure hogwash and balderdash. I think they were a little afraid that some of the more mainstream listeners might want to describe this as being like "a parrot walking across the piano..." Some listeners might need to have their head adjusted a little bit to find the truth of this recording, but again, Mike has proven that he can take "higher musical concepts" (whatever they are) and put them into a nice, neat, easily accessible package. At first I was concerned that it was all gloss and no substance, and maybe he was biting off more than he could chew, but I think after hearing it for about the hundredth time, I can dash those thoughts entirely. It took me almost a hundred listens of "N-Lite" to finally understand that one, but Mike's music comes at you smoothly and the real enjoyment comes as you peel away the layers and find that there is something of substance being conveyed through that nice pretty package.
I do not advocate that this album bears comparison to CPIII other than this could be the beginning of a marvelous series from Mike. Mike learned well from his mentor, but is in no way a copycat.
I really panicked when I heard there were 500 special editions up for grabs. I thought they'd be gone in a jiffy. Guess I was one of the lucky few...
...At least they SHOULD have been snatched in a jiffy.
I really like the "flow" of this album. The pieces segue nicely into each other, and one mood is not sustained for extended periods.
"Draconian blump:" I'd swear that was Miles Davis, but I hear no trumpet. I will, therefore say it is Terje Rypdal.
Speaking of which, I think that what this album closely resembles is all of that marvelous music the German ECM label was putting out in the late-seventies and early-eighties, with the likes of Pat Metheny, Eberhard Weber, Terje Rypdal, Ralph Towner, John Abercrombie, and all the rest. I always felt that that music tapped right into my spine (Hey! Great name for a group there...)
"Juzz:" I really like obnoxious sounding stuff. Too short, that one.
"The Boing-Ah steroid" is another outstanding little piece. Comes at the perfect time, too, right after "Oh angel..."
Not bad playing of drums on this album. I had great fear in me that it would spoil the fun not hearing the likes of those other marvelous percussionists of the BFD merry-go-round. Actually, I find Mike's playing completely competent and suitable for the material. A little sparse at times, it has an orchestral style with lots of cool syncopation. I really like the way he pushes the beat in "Boing-Ah" with that bass kick coming nano-seconds before three...(At least that's the way I hear it...)
I am proud to be a member of a secret society. I have trouble explaining Mike's music to other people who show an interest. I want to say there's some "pop" in there, but this music is far too complicated to be absorbed by weaker minds who cling desperately to the latest top-40 offerings. In a perfect world, this is the type of stuff we'd hear on top-40. Well, maybe one day we'll rise up and conquer, won't that be something?
Doug "Lightning Roy" MacPherson (42/500)
I've listened to Nonkertompf (the double disc set) about 4 times and it smokes! I have all of Mike's solo cds and this one sounds like his purest musical statement to date! It's a direct musical expression without any reinterpretation by other musicians. Of course, I love BFD too and look forward to live tracks from the Sluggo tour and the new band! I also dig Mullmuzzler for a completely different side of Mike's playing!
I like to listen for the little Keneallyisms, you know the ones. Those phrases that reoccur from past works and are blended in with all new trinkets, bobbles, blurbs and shiny things that distract you and make you forget what you were thinking about. This record is really cool!!! I don't think its as open and forward of an artistic expression as "HAT" Although, it uses some of the same phrases NONKER is far more sophisticated and refined. I have listened to this new CD twice since I got it and I can't wait until the urge to spin NONKER strikes me again.
Hey, the first time I met MK was back in 1994, it was after a performance with Z at Parkwest in Chicago. Mike was talking to this girl, and I was in earshot of the conversation, this is what I overheard. Mike says, "Hey maybe we can go get some coffee later, don't worry I am not looking for sex or anything like that" I couldn't distinguish what the girl response was, but their conversation ended with in seconds after Mike said that. then it was my turn to get an autograph and compliment Mike. It was awkward, I didn't quite know what to say, I said some dumb things, "Like how did you get so good at playing the guitar." Mike signed my Z CD. I must say I was a bit disappointed when I didn't get and offer to go for coffee.
Hugs and Kisses, your pal Rik
From left to right: Rik (undiscovered sex symbol), Holly (This dog has the proud distinction of having licked MK's face), Dr.Tounge (The cynical mind-boggling mastermind, who is currently plotting to end oppression).