Saturday, May 13, 2006

Christian Kiefer CD Now Out

Woo hoo! Hi folks,

We're pretty excited to have Christian on the label, since we're big fans of his three CDs for Extreme Records, two sublime singer-songwriter works "Welcome to Hard Times" and "Medicine Show" and one instrumental guitarscape work "Exodust". He's also got a recent collaborative CD with our very own Sharron Kraus out on Fontana ("The Black Dove"). The first of what we hope to be a series of releases, both instrumental and song-based.

Artist: Christian Kiefer
Title: Czar Nicholas Is Dead
Cat No: CAM075CD (10 tracks, 49:02 min)

About the album: Some ideas are difficult to dispense with. Were you to ask Christian Kiefer why he fixated on Russia, and on a particularly grisly period in the country's history, he would probably be unable to answer. After all, Kiefer lived (and still lives) in a quiet, unassuming, and decidedly American suburb in Northern California, a far cry from the North Asian continent of his imagination. But it was, in fact, Russia that had become the object of his curiosity and like Franza Kafka's Amerika, a novel similarly fixated upon a geographical location that the author had no firsthand knowledge of, Kiefer set out to address his interest through art.

The end result of that interest is "Czar Nicholas Is Dead", a soundtrack to a tundra wasteland filled with lonely soldiers, ornate towers crumbling into ruin, and desolate, blood-soaked snowscapes. An essentially ambient project with minimal instrumentation, "Czar Nicholas Is Dead" captures Russia as a fever dream, a strange and disorienting place that lay on no map, but rather resides entirely in the author's imagination.

On the one hand, the subject of Kiefer's project is a strange one to be sure, particularly since most of his recorded output-including the similarly epic and minimalist instrumental project "Exodust" (2002) -has been rooted strongly in American soil. But Kiefer's work has always also been rooted in history and in academic and intellectual pursuits. His Ph.D. work at the University of California at Davis explores the intersection of history and the arts (particularly literature) and "Czar Nicholas Is Dead" falls perfectly within his primary field of interest, even if the geographical location has shifted off the North American continent. For research, Kiefer turned to thick volumes on the assassination of the Romanoff family, the tradition of Russian folk music, and to early Russian silent film.

Kiefer brought in a handful of his favorite musicians and asked them to improvise with him live in the studio with a handful of simple instructions. The material was then worked over further in the studio, edited, rearranged, and produced, often with additional parts being added or subtracted as the musical force of the album began to reveal itself. The end result is part collective improvisation on a conceptual and musical theme, and part constructed and composed musical work.

Press for Christian's work:

"A beautiful musical evocation of a page of Americana. Environmental recordings and electronics wrap up a slow-changing bed of loops consisting of simple folk guitar lines, banjo, accordion, and voices (both singing and reciting)." - All Music Guide on "Exodust" (Extreme Records 2002)

"Christian Kiefer's music brings the listener directly in contact with a new sonic landscape. The atmosphere is crusty and old, hearkening back to a time when mine shafts dotted the forests. I grew up in the same part of the world and I am intimate with its shape. Kiefer captures it beautifully; his music is the real deal." - Terry Riley reviewing "Welcome to Hard Times" (Extreme Records 2000)

"I have one thing to say about Christian Kiefer: It's GREAT to hear new music!" - Thurston Moore

Check out MP3s: Go to

For ordering, go to the Camera Obscura web site and follow the ordering links


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