Music

King Biscuit Time: No Style

Wilson Neate

King Biscuit Time

No Style

Label: Astralwerks
US Release Date: 2000-08-01
Amazon
iTunes

This is the second release from Beta Band vocalist Stephen Mason under the King Biscuit Time moniker. And just in case you missed his first outing (the snappily titled EP, King Biscuit Time Sings Nelly Foggit's Blues in "Me and the Pharaohs"), then you're in luck, since it comes bundled with Mason's new material on No Style.

Although Mason is on his own here, this solo venture displays the same penchant for diverse sounds that characterizes the work of the Beta Band. Effortlessly blending simple electronic pop, ambient nuances, hints of psychedelia, idiosyncratic folk and much more, No Style is a multi-flavored, habit-forming nugget.

The opening cut -- "I Walk the Earth" -- would be a huge hit in a world where intelligent, no-frills, no-attached-product pop was given its due. While such a scenario might be an absurd proposition at this point in music history, it doesn't alter the fact that this downbeat but downright infectious song gets you humming along and nodding your head from the get-go. With its basic hip-hop beats and spare instrumentation -- bonded together with the melodic glue of Mason's laid-back vocals -- this is one of those songs that find their way into your head and get stuck there.

While "I Love You" takes an ambient approach to the subtle ebb and flow of Mason's overdubbed one-man chorus, "Time to Get Up" is more straightforward with its prominent repeating phrases of guitar and harmonica. On "Fatheriver," Mason's chanted vocals echo over drum-and-bass-lite accompaniment. Actually, it's more drum than bass, the ponderous low end almost stationary amid the skittering rush. The driving Can/23 Skidoo-esque instrumental "Niggling Discrepancy," on the other hand, redresses the balance. Here, pulsing bass holds its own in the face of rolling drums and big percussion, all topped off with the dub inflections of what appear to be dueling melodicas.

The sonic diversity of King Biscuit Time is underscored particularly by the differences between the two closing songs on No Style. "Little White" is a slight, fragile track blessed with the lo-fi charm and melancholy depth of Robert Wyatt circa Dondestan. In contrast, "Eye o' the Dug" is a playful cartoon folk song with (what seem to be) speeded-up vocals. If the Laughing Gnome and Pinky and Perky had hooked up and listened to Syd Barrett then they would have written this track. Ah yes, and then there's the woofing -- you might have thought that Euros Childs of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci was barking mad with his canine impersonation on "Poodle Rockin'," but on this waggish track Stephen Mason shows that he's not averse to some doggy stylings either.

The title of this mini-LP might suggest otherwise, but King Biscuit Time has a lot of style or, more accurately, a lot of styles. If you're up for some genre-hopping, thinking person's pop then this release is just the ticket.



Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Music

DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.

Music

JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.

Music

​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.

Music

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times

Music

Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.

Music

How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.

Books

Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.

Music

Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.