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Sun Kil Moon reaches a low point in career with ‘I Also Want to Die in New Orleans’

Mark Kozelek goes free jazz

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Sun Kil Moon reaches a low point in career with ‘I Also Want to Die in New Orleans’

Photo from Rough Trade Records Official Page

Photo from Rough Trade Records Official Page

Photo from Rough Trade Records Official Page

Photo from Rough Trade Records Official Page

By Jacob Abrams, Collegian Staff

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Mark Kozelek’s career has been in a state of rapid entropy since 2014’s masterful “Benji.” Kozelek’s no-holds-barred, free associative lyrics were journeys of self-discovery that panned out in real time. Every revelation that he discovered in life’s mundane details was the musical equivalent of reaching into a pile of manure and finding a diamond. Five years and 10 albums later, the heap of crap has become impenetrable. Song lengths have now unraveled into the double digits, the music has slowed down to a sluggish crawl and Kozelek is about as coherent a geriatric bar rat on his 10th drink.

Kozelek’s latest release under the Sun Kil Moon moniker, “I Also Want to Die in New Orleans,” is yet another 90-minute collection of his unstructured, middle-aged ramblings. Kozelek swiped the album’s title from hip hop duo $uicideBoy$, who, in 2018, released their own debut album titled “I Want To Die In New Orleans.” Lyrically, Kozelek treads in familiar territory. He doesn’t trust politicians, is unsure of how to feel about mid-life domesticity and is terrified of mass shootings. The album marks his first collaboration with saxophonist Donny McCaslin and drummer Jim White as they inflect the record with a blend of folk-jazz that moves at a sloth-like pace.

Kozolek tells you a lot of cool and interesting things that happen in his life that will make you say, “Wow, that is really cool and interesting.” Like, for instance, how he thought the sulfuric odor in his woodsy home may have been caused by a gas leak. He got really worried because gas leaks are really bad, but in the end, it just turned out to be a skunk!

Another cool factoid Kozelek wants you to know about himself is that he’s a foodie. On the 12-minute-long song “Cows,” he boldly declares he doesn’t find chicken all that “finger-licking.” But he loves eating bulgogi in New York City’s Koreatown and wouldn’t be surprised if he “died of a heart attack at Felix’s in New Orleans” after treating himself to too many crawfish. He’s also thinking about giving up on cow meat, but couldn’t because it “tastes so good in [his] mom’s chop suey.” In the end, he makes a Borat reference about plows (because ‘plows’ rhymes with ‘cows’) and says, “I’ve run out of thoughts about cows, at least for now.”

On the 23-minute free-jazz odyssey “Bay of Kotor,” Kozelek somewhat controversially asserts that he gets very uncomfortable when he sees a hungry stray animal, then walks around the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro and looks at girls in bikinis on the beach. These vignettes are pointless and amount to nothing.

There’s a special sort of desperation that runs through all of Kozelek’s latest works. He’s stated on past albums that he doesn’t have any idea what he’d do if he couldn’t make music. Music is the only thing he knows. Kozelek also shatters the fourth wall within the album, admitting his songs are really nothing more than “middle-aged ramblings,” and he’ll even admit mid-song that he’s self-conscious about the gargantuan run time.

At the end of the day, Kozelek has surrendered his life to music. There’s no chance in the world that he thinks every thought that incubates in his mind is ‘deep.’ What he is doing instead is removing any boundary between himself and the listener. There is no metaphor, there is nothing to search for, it is just exactly what it is. But, this opens up a can of worms. Is it revolutionary? Is it garbage? Is there even a point? Is he kidding? It may be possible that we’ll never know what his intentions are. But, Kozelek wouldn’t want this sort of analysis, anyways. The album’s one merit is this: after so much talking on Kozelek’s part, you’ll feel like you will know him so well, maybe even better than anyone you know in real life. His entire existence is there and yours for the taking.

If Kozelek happens to find this review, it’ll no doubt end up in one of his torrential-thought-streams-put-to-music, and he won’t be nice about it. After all, he wasn’t shy about calling another music journalist a “spoiled bitch rich kid blogger brat.” That is, of course, assuming he spends time Googling his own name and reading college journalism about himself. But if he’s as needy for material as he sounds, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Jacob Abrams can be reached at [email protected]

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Sun Kil Moon reaches a low point in career with ‘I Also Want to Die in New Orleans’”

  1. Alum on April 9th, 2019 12:24 pm

    Fantastic read. Great flow, Jacob.

  2. Gina on April 13th, 2019 5:09 am

    I have been listening to Mark for well over 20 years. There is nobody with such a distinctive voice. His music has mad me laugh and made me cry. In concerts he is funny as hell. Mark sings with his heart. I think he is at a point in life where he has fears of death. I think Mark has always written of experiences in his life. He will always be in my eyes a musical genius. Love Ya Mark.

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