Kenneth Minor – Phantom Pain Reliever

After the critically acclaimed release “In that they can’t help it“ of 2010, the offical Kenneth Minor follower “Phantom Pain Reliever“ now finally gets in the starting blocks. It certainly took a while. However, label-restructuring, band-restructuring and life-restructuring required some time. Interestingly enough, the recordings were made within only one week as the very last studio production at the legendary Hazelwood Studios. Thomas Berg played electric guitar and added some organ or piano bits every once in a while. Robert Herz played drums and percussion. Bird Christiani sang his songs and played the acoustic guitar both virtuosically and violently.

A bass guitar player was not considered necessary. Except for one song, when producer Wolfgang Gottlieb unobstrusively hit some bass notes. The songs and stories were captured mainly live with almost no over-dubbing. Folk as folk can be. Folk as it can be today. The opener song “Hitch“ deals with devoting oneself to others a bit too much, the inherent difficulty of making decisions, and making any stumbling block around your own rather than just jumping upon it: “May I relieve you of your burden I could carry it away though I might not detect a proper place for it to stay“. 

“Spring-Cleaning In The Wintertime“ deals with cleaning off the dirt from a past relationship in a very sarcastical and cynical manner: “Since I’ve been accounting the past I like the times that lay ahead of you and everything you said“.

In “Riding On The Assembly Line“ today’s society is depicted as an assembly line which people mindlessly (oftentimes involuntarily) ride upon. The story arises straight from all-day life. However, Christiani does not exclude himself from being trapped within there every now and then and directs the moral pointing finger also towards himself: “You can feel you’re looked all over, all over from head to toe and I just can’t exonerate myself from doing so“. A short musical interlude carried out by the electrical guitar and drums introduces the listener to the next song. “Spots“ considers the world from an outer-space perspective and describes living and dying on Earth as flashing and fading little spots that are mutually interwoven while embedding personal storylines: “Look, watch’em going out, they were just flitting ’round, but there’re new ones flashing up soon“. The title “Positively Grey“ deals with leave-taking and passing away. The song turns black into “positively grey“ and thereby leaves behind one last flicker of hope. Christiani leaves it up to his listeners to make assumptions upon the question if the song is about the loss of a beloved human being or even a cat: “You woke me up, now who’s waking you up?“

“A Woman Passing By“ plainly serves as an anti-love song about human disappointment that eventually transforms itself into a feeling of fury paired with dignity and modest majesty: “I like the shape of your back only when there is no monkey ’round to wear and I like the shape of your feet only if they keep on walking straight ahead“.

Song “Number 92“ was number 92 on Christiani’s  pocket recorder. That is why. It is the answer to a previously recorded tune turning its meaning upside down: “In response to a  song I once adored, to which I made you belong, but once  is called all gone“. “My Life’s Thicket“ refers to the Biblical story “Ram in a thicket“ without being biblical at all otherwise. Strippingly, it reveals the human feeling of fear on a very personal and intimate level: “You won’t let me end up like a ram that’s stuck deep in my life ‘s thicket“. “Limb“ connects hope with dispair.

Endless sadness meets the endlessness of a new horizon: “I kept tossin’ and turnin’ like a wounded bull and the barriers were low with more behind than met the matador’s eye“. “Overboard“ recommends throwing overboard annoying habits as well as it appeals to dispose oneself of superfluous and illusory values: “And I hate to hate to hate you, hate’ s not even worth its name“. “Hollywood in Paris“ indeed takes place in the French capital between microcosm and macrocosm and smartly highlights the critique of the observed gaping between rich and poor, happiness and misfortune: “Not sweet at all the taste of sour cream from a plastic cup to see the world from upside down means not to be on top“.