Starting with the introductory Dearly Beloved, the church pastor presides over a bronchially challenged congregation while an epic thunderstorm rages overhead. ‘Kula Shaker 6’ is ardent, but it’s far from solemn.
“You could say 1st Congregational church of Eternal Love is the band’s ‘altar-ego’,” explains Crispian. “We just liked the mental imagery of the small church with a rickety, leaky roof and a great storm raging in heaven, with all these tiny people huddled together to tell stories and sing songs and make it through the dark night.”
“The Pretty Things ‘S.F Sorrow’ has always been a band favorite and this album definitely has a similar ‘musical’ feel, not so much in terms of reoccurring characters but consistent themes. St Michael and the angelic battle weaves its way throughout, but this doesn’t make it a purely Biblical story. The idea of a war in Heaven being waged here on Earth, between angels and demons, is the essence of the plot of both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, which are the great epics of ancient India.”
“I think we are in a kind of a spiritual war. Without a doubt. It’s ‘Love versus Fear.’ But this is a battle that’s been going on since the beginning of time and it’s a conflict that is first and foremost in our own hearts.”
With it’s ‘once-more-unto-the-fray’ spirit, Kula Shaker rides into battle and returns to find love as the songs unfold. Whatever it is — I’m Against It sets the tone with a joyful protest-rock spirit. Hometown finds “things ain't what they used to be” as fiery guitars shake the pews. Farewell Beautiful Dreamer part lullaby, part wake-up call, could be a lost excerpt from a teenage opera. (“It’s all imagery from the American origin myth — put through a nursery rhyme mangler.”)
Where Have All the Brave Knights Gone? set to golden harmonies and bluesy keys, wonders what happened to valour (“...shades of Don Quixote. I can relate to that.”).
‘After The Fall - Pt 2 & 3’ supplies the album’s climax, in the form of a vast Morricone'd surf soundtrack rock-opera melange: “We wanted to have a sort of climactic finale, where the final battle is fought and won. It weaves a lot of the album’s lyrical elements together and resolves the story, whereas Bumblebee takes us back to the church: the storm has blown over, the roof ’s not entirely collapsed, the sun has come out, and everyone sings a song and goes down the pub.”
After three decades of engaging and disengaging with the frantic theatre of rock music, it’s a thing of great joy to hear Kula Shaker sounding so free of battle weariness and PTSD. Behind them lies a by now epic tale of their own outlandish struggles and phases. From their roots in the early 90s psychedelic circuit; the band mind-meld with a 9th century Indian mystic King who’s name they (more or less ) adopted; the balloon-in-a-gale flight to stardom with singles ‘Tattva’, ‘Hey Dude’ and ‘Govinda’ ascending the charts and first album ‘K’ selling in pop truckloads.
The band’s trip has wound through gonzo success, media sensationalism, and music industry hubris. There was the under-appreciated second album 1999’s ‘Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts’, recorded at vast expense in the US and the UK with not one but three legendary producers, starting with Rick Rubin and George Drakoulias, before settling with Bob Ezrin on Pink Floyd’s fantasy houseboat studio.