The Kropotkins
"Paradise Square "

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$13.99 | CD | Catalog #MUS019

My Body Lies on the Mountain
Beulah Land

North Mississippi rhythm & blues and fife & drum meet techno and punk rock in The Kropotkins' world, producing startling song and dance styles, exploring a parallel American popular music.

The group features Memphis singer and guitarist Lorette Velvette, guitar and bass by Dog (a.k.a. Mark Deffenbaugh, Souixie and the Banshees and John Cale), banjo and violinist Dave Soldier, violinist Charlie Burnham (James Blood Ulmer trio), drummers Samm Bennett and Jonathan Kane (the Swans, February, La Monte Young), Al X. Greene on keyboards, with bass by Doug Easley .

Village Voice article about The Kropotkins
San Francisco East Bay Express review
All music review

Village Voice Review
Conduct Unbecoming
What kind of mad scientist cooked up the Kropotkins? It was a neurobiologist up at Columbia who goes by David Soldier. A conceptualist composer, Soldier is no stranger to the blues. The Soldier String Quartet used to do microtonal arrangements of Muddy Waters songs that were both decorous and ass-kicking. Taking the stage at Joe's Pub on Thursday, Kropotkins left decorous in the dust.

Nothing with drummer Moe Tucker, the thundergoddess behind the Velvet Underground, could be described as decorous. Her opening set of angry songs about working-class America (take that, Lou) rocks way too hard for the pretties at Joe's. In Kropotkins, Jonathan Kane joins her in an overdriven second line. Violinist Charles Burnham is a funky improviser who plays with Susie Ibarra. Soldier's banjo suggests that the high lonesome sound is an overtone series generated by the open strings of the Delta bottom. Kropotkins find common ground between the non-Western tunings and African beats of the old blues and the barbaric harmonies of early minimalism. Not for nothing is their new album entitled Five Points Crawl, after the notorious downtown ghetto of the last century. Soldier's is a blues of gentrification.

With all this formal innovation, it takes a while to realize that Kropotkins songs are real songs, originals by band members and poet James Tucker. And for a song you need what? A singer, that's right. A Memphis cohort of Alex Chilton, Lorette Velvette has been through enough traditions (rockabilly, punk, deep blues) for a lifetime. (Her three albums are anthologized on Rude Angel.) Velvette is pregnant and has checked her former trash-glam look; she might be a bit embarrassed to be singing umpteen numbers about screwing. Where Lucinda Williams's voice wins the listener in the strain—the barely hit notes, the uncertainty whether her breath will give out—Velvette wows with an iron determination to get through at all costs. Reality TV? This is reality music, man, and we need more of it. —David Krasnow

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