Kiran Leonard

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The Big Fish (2011), 5/10
Bowler Hat Soup (2013), 5/10
Abandoning Noble Goals (2015), 6.5/10 (EP)
Thread Colours (2015), 6/10
Garden in Bermuda (2016), 6/10
Grapefruit (2016), 7/10
Derevaun Seraun (2017), 7/10
Western Culture (2018), 5/10

Manchester's singer-songwriter Kiran Leonard released his first single, the six-minute electronic piece Shibuya (2008), when he was barely 12 years old. This was followed by the lengthy electronic songs of the mini-album Moth Enters The Bright Lights (2010): The Best Night Of Benedict's Life (8:38), Midnight Is A Beggar's Shrine (9:54) and Ragged Beautiful/ The Bright Lights (9:36). Even more ambitious was the 27-minute Frank Zappa-esque clownish jazz-rock suite The Big Fish, off The Big Fish (2011), on which he played (quote): "drum kit, electric guitar (with plectrum. fingers, wine glass, pliers & screwdriver), bass guitar. synthesiser, voices, melodica, dented penny whistle, wurlitzer electric piano, harpsichord, mumbai bells, dry pasta, reco-reco, shaker, acoustic guitar, glockenspiel, piano, cittern, banjo, mandolin, VSTs, tambourine, tom".

Imaginary Benefactors Of The Physicality Weapon (2011) compiles assorted rarities.

Meanwhile, he also produced abrasive electronic music as Akrotiri Poacher, as documented on Seminary (Prairie Fire, 2012).

The 24-minute The End Times (2012) is an ever-mutating suite that spans a number of genres from lysergic ode to abstract electronics but lacks a cohesive narrative. It's like a chaotic and disorganic version of Mike Oldfield's early suites. In the same year he concocted three singles: the propulsive blues-rock locomotive Geraldo's Farm (2012), the Kinks-ian garage-pop ditty Dear Lincoln (2013), and the nervous, Captain Beefheart-esque Oakland Highball (2013).

A Seed is a Sovereign (2013), instead, collects 150 minutes of electronic experiments recorded between 2008 and 2010.

The double-LP Bowler Hat Soup (Hand of Glory, 2013), entirely performed by him on 24 different instruments, presented a much more conventional songwriter with a much more conventional portfolio of songs: the Elvis Costello-ian ballad with strings Brunswick Street, the breezy exotic singalong Sea Of Eyes, musichall skits like The Battle Of Hoopla Bay, the organ-driven dirge A Purpose, not to mention the rather tedious seven-minute Drysdale. Best is perhaps the six-minute piano-driven meditation Smilin Morn in the vein of Don McLean's American Pie and Billy Joel's Piano Man. Overall the album does not live up to the expectations raised by the previous recordings.

The six-song EP Terreiro do Paco (2014) contains more rarities, notably the eleven-minute elegy Kindlier Hearts Or A Dearer Ground, whose guitar work at times sounds like Leo Kottke performing a Terry Riley piece Spring Rounds (2014) collects rarities and (mostly) live versions, notably an eight-minute version of Geraldo's Farm.

The five-song EP Abandoning Noble Goals (2015) contains the gentle lullabye Working People and the poignant lament Eunuch, a sort of more melodic Bob Dylan, but the centerpiece if the eight-minute Visions Of Worthless Shortcomings, simple folkish melody buried under dense arrangements and tribal drumming, the first real success of his multi-layered method.

Thread Colours (2015), credited to Pend Oreille, contains six electronic songs: Waiting Line (8:36), a mellow litany whispered over hypnotic jazzy bass and percussion; Consequences of Whaling (11:17), whose interlocking mantra-like chants are buried into electronic distortion; the relaxed aria of We Have Vanished (7:39), lulled by hip-hop beats and warped here and there (perhaps the most intriguing idea); and messy collages that aspire to become songs like Al Crosse and Living With Your Ailments.

Some of the songs on Garden in Bermuda (2016) are credited to his alias Advol, notably the nine-minute I Reached Out and You Disappeared, a Tim Buckley-esque litany with a disorienting confluence of hammering piano, atonal guitar and torrential drumming (that turns into musique concrete and ends as a folkish solo of acoustic guitar), and one to his alias Akrotiri Poacher, the six-minute wall-of-noise experiment Sometimes She Just Goes For Long Drives.

Grapefruit (Moshi Moshi, 2016) increased his passion for crooning of the pop-jazz school. He is clearly tempted by the neoclassical ballad, as demonstrated by Secret Police and Caiaphas In Fetters. The lengthy 16-minute Pink Fruit is a mixed bag, like most of his lengthy compositions. Six minutes into the song he stops crooning and delves into more interesting sonic exploration, although the dramatic crescendo that follows it is rather amateurish (if well-intentioned). The bolder Ondor Gongor runs the gamut from spastic blues to punk-rock, from psychedelic chant to doo-wop vocals. The ten-minute Fireplace is chaotic and dissonant, gloomy and bombastic like a Jim Steinman melodrama, with a soaring refrain, but twisted by a violent inner tension. The nine-minute Don't Make Friends With Good People is perhaps the most inventive of the lengthy narratives: a lively folk dance that mutates into a neoclassical rondo' and then takes off as a hysterical rant over a roaring instrumental base. If it cannot match Fireplace in psychological depth, it shows an equally derailed psyche. On this album he played (quote): "acoustic guitar, banjo, bass guitars, bongo, cittern, cowbell, drums, electric guitars, field recordings, finger cymbals, goat bells, magnetic tape machine, mandolin, melodica, mud bucket, oscillator, pans [frying, sauce-], penny whistle, radio [analog, wide-band SDR], reed organ, ride, sandpaper, synthesiser, tambourine, television, thunder tube, toy megaphone, violin, voice".

Derevaun Seraun (2017) is an impressive concept album: five philosophical lieder for voice, piano, and strings, each one a tribute to a great writer without using their words but expressing Leonard's own impressions: the brief and vibrant Could She Still Draw Back? (dedicated to James Joyce), the tense and obsessive Living With Your Ailments (Albert Camus), the Lou Reed-ian A Particle Of Flesh Refuses The Consummation Of Death (Henry Miller), The Mute Wide-Open Eye Of All Things (Clarice Lispector) and the nine-minute The Cure For Pneumothorax (Manuel Bandeira), perhaps a bit too abstract. Each one demonstrates an intense symbiosis with the obscure wonder of great fiction.

Western Culture (Moshi Moshi, 2018) contains much inferior material. Somehow, the vehement Paralysed Force and Exactitude And Science evoke the young Cat Stevens. The seven-minute Unreflective Life blends the emphasis with brainy post-rock. Only the eight-minute Legacy Of Neglect returns to the poignant multi-stylistic format that best fits his meditations.

More rarities surfaced on A Bit of Violence With These Old Engines (2018), notably the eight-minute folk elegy Dennes.

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