By Maria Caetano
Mark Kozelek loves Portugal so much that he owns a record label named Caldo Verde. But there is no risk of that love going unexpressed, now that he has composed a quasi-hymn in praise for the country where the people don’t walk, they stroll, where drivers assume to crying to Sun Kil Moon’s songs and where the songwriter promises to retire and expresses the wish to have part of his ashes sprayed upon. There is evident catch for a relevant fan-base that loves Kozelek, and that now knows Kozelek loves them back. “I love Portugal, I love Portugal, oh, oh / And it doesn’t have a goddamned thing to do with football,” he sings.
I Love Portugal is just one of the 16 new songs released in a double album, Common as Light and Love Are Red Valleys Of Blood, released February 17 and generously streaming on the musician’s website. It is also a starkly contrasting theme to most others on the record — not merely in style, being classic Sun Kil Moon material, but in subject and mood as well. It is the happy key in an otherwise gloomy and intelligent rant over a terrible year, 2016, that saw terror and democratic discredit taken to new heights.
Common as Light runs as a diarist iteration of events, filled with poetic playfulness, starting at home, Ohio, and traversing America as beat nostalgia for the current times. It goes through media culture with sarcastic castigation, beats up redneck culture and techno-apathy, urges for gun control, and blames all for the election of Donald Trump. As redemption, it offers “the shortest poem in history” by Mohammed Ali, who when asked for answers by a college student replied “We, me” — the coda in Bergen to Trondheim, song in which Kozelek finds himself touring in Norway as a gun attack took place in an LGBT club in Orlando, Florida.
Entries in a diary that encompasses Kozelek’s routines through the first half of 2016, while touring the US and Europe, and also social commentary over the world’s misgivings, the album is also an harmonious cadavre exquis of musical genres that run from folksongs to hip-hop, to funk, to spectrum beats, to spoken word and even to the fingering of cavaquinho.
If there is reinvention and capacity to create from negative events, this is it. If there is a year in review made from music, this is how it would look. If there is one record you should esteem as words that feed, have this.
Common as Light and Love Are Red Valleys Of Blood
Sun Kil Moon
Caldo Verde, 2017