November 2003 • Rockbites Alternative Daily

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From Red House Painters to Sun Kil Moon
5 November 2003
Red House Painters front man Mark Kozelek yesterday released the debut by his new band Sun Kil Moon—named, most oddly, after Choi Sun-Kil, first wife of South Korean cult leader/ power monger/ madman Sun Myung Moon.
    In the summer of 1982, Moon married 4,150 of his followers, popularly known as 'moonies,' in a single ceremony at New York city’s Madison Square Garden arena. He had personally arranged most of the pairings.
    Four months later, previously-undefeated South Korean boxer Duk Koo Kim—whose name adorns track eight of Kozelek’s new LP—wrote 'Kill or be killed' on a mirror in his Las Vegas hotel room. He then went to Caesar’s Palace to fight WBA lightweight champion Ray Mancini. Kim lost spectacularly and then died from brain injuries a few days later. The fight’s referee and Kim’s mother each committed suicide the following year.
    So what do Korea, 1982, arranged marriages, and tragedy have to do with San Francisco-based Mark Kozelek’s new, Americana-centered album? Fuck if I know.
    Ghosts Of The Great Highway, self-produced by Kozelek, contains a delicious mix of the gentle and the noisy—ranging from tracks Glenn Tipton and Floating, with nothing but acoustic guitar and Kozelek’s buttery voice, to Salvador Sanchez (and its alternate version, Pancho Villa) and Lily And Parrots, where the band do their best high-energy Neil Young And Crazy Horse impressions. The 58-minute LP bears a bit of similarity, in fact, in feel and in sound (minus Young’s harmonica and Crazy Horse’s backing vocals), to the 1979 classic Rust Never Sleeps.
    Kozelek didn’t, apparently, try to create a Songs For A Blue Guitar for 2003. This is not a collection of sparkling, heartbreakingly beautiful love songs. That’s fine—you can still slip Songs For A Blue Guitar into your CD player whenever you want to. Rather, Ghosts Of The Great Highway is an unassuming collection of timeless, post-modern Americana about the passage of time and about the value of life as revealed through loss and death.
    Sun Kil Moon, the studio band, consists of Kozelek along with ex-Red House Painters drummer Anthony Koutsos and ex-American Music Club drummer Tim Mooney, plus ex-Black Lab bassist Geoff Stanfield. Mark Kozelek starts a short, solo US tour, sure to feature many of his new songs, on 5 December in Chicago. Here are the dates:

  5 - Chicago (Schubas)
  7 - Boston (Middle East Upstairs)
  9 - New York city (Fez)
17 - Seattle (Crocodile Cafe)

17 - Los Angeles (The Troubadour)
22 - San Francisco (Great American Music Hall)

| Sun Kil Moon on Jetset Records | | Mark Kozelek | | Sun Myung Moon on family | | CD from | | top of page |


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