[Nagnagnag] Kirk in the 90s

Gordon Bass gwbass at att.net
Mon Jan 12 10:01:21 EST 2004

I've gotta agree with Matt. It's been a few years now since I've been
completely blown away by a new Kirk release. I'll keep buying them as long
as he puts them out, and there are always at least two or three stellar cuts
on each CD, but with one exception I haven't been amazed by a complete work
since the 90s.

For me, the mid 90s--specifically 1994 and 1995--saw Kirk at the peak of his
solo game. Virtual State, Closed Circuit, and Intensely Radioactive form a
trio of nearly perfect works (from three identities, no less!) that are each
listenable from the first to the last track. All within a 24-month period,
and one of them's a double CD!

I think there's a greater "musicality" and depth of production to these
albums (and others from this period) that's been missing lately. I've been
listening to Virtual State for a decade now, and I'm still stunned by its
cinematic scope. Kirk himself once said he imagined the album to be the
soundtrack for a Blade Runner type of film. Maybe "Lagoon West" is a little
bit of a throwaway (I've never been a fan of Kirk's "static wash" pieces),
but otherwise the entire album builds steadily for more than an hour, with
an unmatched complexity and variety of musical themes weaving in and out. I
put this on when I'm writing, and it never fails to stimulate my

Unfortunately Kirk's releases of the last few years have been characterized
by two or three strong tracks each but also a lot of recycling...or maybe a
lack of inspiration. I mean, "Spooks Inna Congo," from Afrocentris, is
beautiful, rhythmic, tribal, complex. It feels organic. But a lot of the
other tracks revert to one-finger noodling and filler. "Nye (...Mix)" and
"Otecnique of Transformation" are fun to dance to, but they don't show off
Kirk's creativity.

Same with Bush Doctrine. There are a couple of stellar cuts--False Kings of
the Earth and I Got Weapons are potent and angry--but there's some
substandard stuff, too.

There's one exception to all of the above: I think "one million and three"
is a devastatingly original foray into funk and Americana of the 70s. I'd
love to see Kirk dust off this moniker.

In Kirk's defense, it's gotta be hard to maintain your output for thirty
years. I can't think of anyone who's remained as prolific for as long. And I
can't help thinking/hoping he's got another masterpiece or two in him.

Anyone, just one person's thoughts.


More information about the Nagnagnag mailing list