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Reuniting With an Old Friend
Kontiki: Deluxe Edition (Star Apple Kingdom)
By Kevin Gibson
Ah, Cotton Mather, we hardly knew ye. When I first heard "My Before and After" on WFPK back in the late 1990s, I literally had to pull my car over to write down the name of the band when the DJ announced it. And yes, I went to ear X-tacy that very day and bought a copy.
Kontiki became the soundtrack to my life for quite some time; I always believed it was one of the best albums the Beatles never recorded. Harrison's ability to write haunting melodies then deliver them with his distinctive Lennon-esque voice is tough to match, and the way he tells a story in song is just in another world.
Sadly, after one more album, Cotton Mather disbanded. Harrison resurfaced with his band Future Clouds and Radar (a must-hear for Cotton Mather fans, by the way), but something about Kontiki stuck with me, kind of like a first love.
And now it has been re-mastered and re-released in a deluxe edition that includes a disc of bonus material that is taking my ears on all sorts of fun psychedelic trips. The extra material is primarily stripped-down versions of the songs on Kontiki as well as a few other odds and ends, such as an electric version of "Spin My Wheels" (which actually has long been available as a free download).
One of my favorites here is "Pine Box Builder no. 1," which is a song that was released in a different version on the aforementioned follow up to Kontiki (another great and sadly ignored album, which was titled The Big Picture). This song was always one of my favorites from that album, and appears here with all the rich vocal layers as well as a harpsichord solo. Gorgeous.
Along with the bonus music, you also get plenty of notes and narratives from Harrison himself about the recording processes involved, how the songs came to be and, where appropriate, why they were not included on Kontiki. For a music nerd like me, that's worth the price of the set in itself. But music, too?
And let's face it – it's always good to reunite with an old friend. Kontiki and I had some great times together, and now I get to relive those in a whole new way. Thank you, Robert Harrison. Thank you.
Find out more at starapplekingdom.com.