karl blau Out Her Space (CD, £10.50)label: bella union
Sequestered away in rural bliss, 90 minutes north of Seattle on the Washington state coast, Karl Blau has been making records for 20 years but never with European distribution. So, when Bella Union released ‘Introducing Karl Blau’ in 2015, it shone a belated and deserved light on “one of the great hidden treasures of music,” claimed album producer Tucker Martine. However, given ‘Introducing’s specific agenda - a set of gorgeous, lush cover versions drawing mostly on vintage Nashville’s country-soul with Blau concentrating on his rich, reverberating voice - his latest album ‘Out Her Space’ is so different that it could be titled ‘Reintroducing Karl Blau’. ‘Out Her Space’ features Blau’s own material, production and multi-instrumental skills and forges a gorgeous, languid and hook-infested gumbo of soul, funk, some jazzy blowing and Afro-pop, to arrive somewhere else entirely. Or as the Secretly Important blog says of Blau: “He manages to find what’s unique about a genre and throws it against the wall like a fist full of wet noodles; over and over, until what’s stuck is a unique genre amalgam.” The album also testifies to Blau’s studio skills, as he captures the glimmering, humid depths of those sweltering southern influences, despite his north-western heritage. But then Blau has engineered and produced a heap of records for himself and others, often at his home in Anacortes, releasing records on Washington’s favourite indies K and Knw-Yr-Own, as well as through his own Kelp Lunacy Advanced Plagiarism Society subscription service.
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