British band Kula Shaker have released their brand new studio album, ‘NATURAL MAGICK’ today, via Strange Folk Records/Absolute Label Services.
Listen to ‘NATURAL MAGICK’ HERE
The band’s 7th studio album finds the reunited original four members of Kula Shaker casting their most powerful spells yet. NATURAL MAGICK is a mesmeric 13-track incantation of blazing psychedelic sermons, stardust-coated pop pearls and mood-enhancing mantras, all with a potent pinch of their trademark special K.
“This chapter in the band’s life is very much driven by live energy and that connection with the audiences which comes with it,” explains Crispian Mills of the band’s approach. “It was very similar to the way we recorded K, back when we only had half an hour to blow people away.” he continues, “We wrote and tested all the songs on the road, so they’re all quite tough and tight in the arrangement. If you can take an audience on a fantastical ride in a few short minutes, there’s a thrill and excitement in that.”
In a development Kula connoisseurs have long dreamed about, ‘NATURAL MAGICK’ sees the return of Hammond organ wizard Jay Darlington, after a decade with Oasis and various Gallaghers, completing and reenergising the band’s classic line-up of Crispian Mills on guitar & vocals, Alonza Bevan on bass & vocals, and Paul Winter-Hart on drums.
“It was one of those fortuitous moments of synchronicity,” says Crispian, “When we first reformed in 2007, Jay was still in Oasis, but at the end of last year the intertwining paths of fates brought us back together. There’s an excitement and momentum you feed off in these situations. Two days after Jay did his first official gig back with us at Shepherd’s Bush Empire last December, we were in the studio recording new songs.”
Named after a 10th century south-Indian King, Kula Shaker first carried their royal flag of retro freakery and spiritual sonics to the toppermost of the poppermost during the heady days of Britpop, with songs like ‘Tattva’ and ‘Hush’ from the multi-platinum selling album ‘K’. Fast forward to the present day and 2024 sees
the band ride out once again, mystical-machine-guns-a-blazing, with the release of ‘Natural Magick’.
From the amp-crackle which ushers in blistering opener ‘GASLIGHTING’, which riffs on Gil Scott-Heron’s 1971 classic ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ with lyrics like “The revolution will not be live-streamed across all social-media platforms / You will receive no notifications, only de-hypnotisations, revelations and realisations”), it is clear this is a band once again firing on all cylinders.
The pulsating radio hit ‘WAVES’ is a hymn to the communal euphoria of their never-better live shows. Next comes the infectious ‘INDIAN RECORD PLAYER’ with its finger-clicking homage to Bollywood icons R.D. Burman and Asha Bhosle (among others), its wild fun setting the pulse racing, and along with ‘CHURA LIYA (YOU STOLE MY HEART)’, there’s a nod to Mill’s love of vintage Indian cinema, performed with East-London’s Bangladeshi chanteuse Laboni Barua; but arguably it’s the dazzling title track ‘NATURAL MAGICK’ which sees the emotional needle hurtling into the red in a distillation of every klassic Kula moment to date.
Powerful personal and philosophical currents swirl within these groovy meditations while the heartstrings are tugged on the sublime back-porch country-honk of ‘STAY WITH ME TONIGHT’, featuring female vocalist Alanoud Gigante.
‘SOMETHING DANGEROUS’, is a Dylan-esque ode to the joys of (mild) disorientation and the freedom that
comes from questioning the status quo, while the central disconnect between rulers and ruled is explored
fully in the driving ‘IDONTWANNAPAYMYTAXES’ and it’s sibling ‘F-BOMBS’.
Arguably, the hidden gem of this collection of winners is the Hare Krishna-inspired ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’ – a singalong of ‘Govinda’-style proportions. The haunting, Tarantinoesque landscape of ‘WHISTLE AND I WILL COME’ who’s title alludes to 1961 cine-classic ‘Whistle Down The Wind’ (which starred Crispian’s mum Hayley, of course). There is a darker hue to the escapist ‘KALIFORNIA BLUES’, and the twinkling finale of ‘GIVE ME TOMORROW’, surely a classic in the making, will have even the most hardened cynic swearing they’ve got something in their eye.
Having made a welcome return in 2007 with the self-funded ‘Strangefolk’, Kula Shaker have slowly and surely built towards the sonic summit, via 2010’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, 2016’s ‘K 2.0’ and last year’s ‘1st Congregational Church Of Eternal Love And Free Hugs’. Now there is the excitement of ‘NATURAL MAGICK’ coming after the shortest gap, not just between Kula Shaker albums, but of any since the golden era of the music biz, when two albums per year was the expected normal.
It is all part of the ever-evolving Kula Shaker gospel, which has both entertained and inspired listeners with
songs like ‘Govinda’.