Morrison Kincannon – Beneath the Redwoods
Morrison Kincannon. I see their name and instantly I’m flooded with more words than I know what to do with. That’s the purpose of music – to fill in all the gaps where words don’t quite fit right – but the irony is that music has provoked my speechlessness in this scenario. I just finished listening to Beneath the Redwoods, the long awaited compilation of lost recordings that Morrison Kincannon discharged in the 70’s and early 80’s, and I’m in a daze of emotions and feeling the sonic waves of the music echoing through my body and soul. I don’t know what I was expecting when I first got this assignment, but I wasn’t expecting the kaleidoscopic textures I encountered in Beneath the Redwoods.
We get started with the freewheeling “Freely” before settling into the dark, fuzz-saturated funk of “I’ll Be OK Tomorrow.” Beneath the Redwoods kicks things off like a Flying Burrito Brothers album; We get a little pastoral, a little reflective, and then we get a little stoned on these basslines and let our swagger start to expand and fill up the room. The stone cold “To See One Eagle Fly” staggers its way right into “I Believe That There’s Good in This World,” despite the drastic change in pace between the two tracks.
There’s a lot of juxtaposing in Beneath the Redwoods that adds to the overwhelming charm of the album. You’re not expecting the abrasiveness of “As the River Flows On” when its psychedelic tinge washes over the ambient rhythm that drives its catchy verses. “I Will See You Again” comes drifting out of the ethers in technicolor amidst the black and white of its surroundings. Nothing is predictable, and Morrison and Kincannon leave us on the edge of our seats from start to finish.
Whether it’s getting hypnotized by the title track, warming up in the sunlight of “Sonshine,” galloping along with “Destination,” or losing yourself in the exotic groove of “On Mt. Diablo,” the latter half of Beneath the Redwoods contains just as many thrills and chills as its first act, in a rare instance where a compilation album flows better than most studio recordings do. Even in the more somber moments like “Seashell” or the contemplative “All My Life,” we never break away from the brisk pace of the first couple of tracks. It’s like this record was left to simmer for decades and is now perfect for mass consumption.
I would recommend that anyone – and when I say anyone I really mean everyone – who considers themselves to be a student of history and a true music enthusiast to give Morrison Kincannon’s Beneath the Redwoods a thorough studying when they have the opportunity to do so. This is classic music from a time when music meant a lot more to the people who were responsible for bringing it to the world around them.Most of the albums that I refer to as being “required listening” in my reviews have origins rooted in this decade; this album’s spans an entire lifetime, and what a lifetime it has been.