Manchester’s finest young troubadour Kiran Leonard unleashed a batshit crazy 16-minute long single the other day, called ‘Pink Fruit’ (unlike David Bowie he’s clearly not bothered about the 10-minute streaming rule).
Released on one-sided etched 12″ on Moshi Moshi on February 12, you can check the track out below, as well as reading some fine words by the 20-year-old himself about which other acts he ripped off (his words) on it.
If that wasn’t enough, Kiran’s album Grapefruit is released March 25 on Moshi Moshi, and he’s got the following live dates coming up:
11 January – London, Victoria
12 January – Brighton, Prince Albert
13 January – Salford, Eagle Inn
14 January – Glasgow, The Hug & Pint (Celtic Connections Festival)
Here’s Kiran on the track, its influences and his dad’s off-roader:
My new single ‘Pink Fruit’ is about the anxiety of adolescence; all those feelings of insignificance, acute and painful self-perception, suffocating, shit-eating schoolboy machismo, and laughing at it all before you condemn all memories of it to flames. It’s also sixteen minutes and fifteen seconds long. “Wow,” you’re possibly thinking, “that sure is a lot of room for a host of fresh, inventive musical ideas!” Wrong! It’s a lot of room for unfettered derivation, and the shameless recycling of songs I grew up listening to. Here’s five examples:
1. The Mars Volta – ‘Cygnus… Vismund Cygnus’
I first heard this song when I was 10 or 11 in the back of this old off-roader my Dad used to own. My brother had one of those classic white iPods that were about 2 inches thick and he showed me the first track off the Mars Volta album Frances The Mute. There are two fucking excellent things about ‘Cygnus… Vismund Cygnus’: the middle section alone, for one, which features both one of my favourite guitar solos ever (I can probably sing it all the way through), and this great time signature that’s like, 9+12+8. TIK-tik-tik-tik-TAK-tik-tik-TAK-tik-TIK-tik-tik-tik-TAK-tik-tik-TAK-tik-tik-TAK-tik-TIK-tik-tik-tik-TAK-tik-tik-tik. But secondly (and this is something that is more pertinent to its influence on “Pink Fruit”), there is the re-usage towards the end of material from the beginning of the song, after the aforementioned long digression. Except it’s louder (at least it feels like it)! So you have that middle bit with the great time signature, and then everything stops and Cedric goes “WHO-OO-OO DO YOU TRUUU-UUU-UUST”, and you, the listener, goes: “Oh shit! I’ve heard this bit before! Like, four minutes ago! It sounds even better when it comes back in for the second time!” I think the Mars Volta, perhaps as much as any other band in history, can be criticised for writing long pieces that meander and lose their way, but the great thing about ‘Cygnus… Vismund Cygnus’ is its structural consistency, and the re-use of motifs which unifies it as a piece. But I also like it because it’s a bit silly.
2. Kate Bush – ‘Rocket’s Tail’
‘Pink Fruit’ is rare for me in that the lyrics, or at least during the first four minutes, recount a narrative, and I think it was listening to Kate Bush more than anything else which motivated me to write lyrics that weren’t just ‘pleasant syllables’, conceptually incoherent jumbles of words written at the last minute just so there was something there (not that that’s completely absent on the LP…). ‘Rocket’s Tail’ is a favourite. I think it was my mum who showed me it; it’s about this character who decides to take off into the sky like a rocket, jumping off Tower Bridge with a gunpowder pack attached to their boots, and then when it kicks in you here her go: “And still as a rocket I land in the water!” It’s a very funny, beautiful piece of music, but above all it is, like everything she’s ever done, deeply thoughtful. Maybe you can argue that Kate Bush is prone to over-indulging eccentric creative urges, but there is never anything frivolous or ill-conceived about her work. Her greatest characteristic as an artist is a passionate, studious and inspirational attention to detail, both in her musical arrangements and her words. “Hee-hee! hehe-hee-hee!”
3. Frank Zappa – ‘Lumpy Gravy Parts One & Two’
In these sorts of pieces I pretty much always have to find a place to mention Frank Zappa, a composer whose work I don’t revisit very much these days (certainly not much of the post-1975, overly parodic, tediously crude stuff) but one who was such a dominating musical figure in my brain when I was 13/14 that there are traces of his influence in more or less everything I do. This is certainly the case with sound collages (there is a fairly long one at the beginning of ‘Pink Fruit’’s second section), and the use of recordings of conversations to bridge together musical sequences. I had heard the Schaeffer/Stockhausen musique concrète stuff (and of course the sound collage at the end of ‘Cygnus… Vismund Cygnus’) but never electronic stuff that seemed so humorous and human-sounding. And the music in ‘Lumpy Gravy’ is great fun too. Way better than ‘Hot Rats’.
4. Daniel Johnston – ‘Lullaby’
Daniel Johnston’s huge body of work tells the story of a conflicted, unhappy and unlucky man, who articulates with humour, love, poignancy and sensitivity his inner world and the world he sees around him. He does this with such striking honesty and universality that he serves as a benchmark for us all. To be honest, it is highly spurious to claim anyone on earth could successfully rip this song off; I wish that I could even palely imitate Daniel Johnston, but for me and most people there is always that cowardice that makes us hide feelings behind other characters, or cloak them in deliberately obscure metaphor (and there some people who try to write like him and just suck). Contrary to how he describes himself in his music, Daniel Johnston is astonishingly, gloriously brave, with a worldview that has influenced not just the way that I write but the way that I think about the world and about myself. “She said I was a real loser / at least I’m real / and being real sometimes / is a losing game.”
5. Grinderman – ‘Evil’
The best thing about Grinderman 2, a criminally underrated record and the best one Nick Cave has ever played a part in producing, is the feedback and the noise. This record is about 50% melody and 50% restless, invigorating, ruthless walls of skronk. I mean, what the fuck is that sound at the beginning of ‘Evil’? It’s like overhearing the lonely air raid siren from the bunker you’ve fled to. It’s absolutely terrifying. I might be wrong but I think it’s mostly Warren Ellis doing it all. The record’s just bursting at the seams with this unsettling, simultaneous atonality and undeniable melodiousness. That sort of nervous, exciting balance between the two is something to aspire to. That and making the best midlife crisis album ever.