Kirin J Callinan / Return To Center LP
Following two albums of inimitable, challenging pop music that garnered global acclaim and marked Callinan as a singularly unique talent, it is ironically singing other peoples' songs that felt like the most truthful next step for Kirin as an artist.
On Return To Center Callinan's trademark flamboyance is cut with a newfound fragility that comes curled up in an attempt to do justice to the songs he holds nearest and dearest. Callinan, and the album's zeitgeist Grammy Award winning producer Francois Tetaz, rework both all-time favourites and last-minute spontaneous additions, songs that have shaped the artist he is today amongst songs that were jammed out of the blue in their Silverlake garage come studio, spilling onto the street with ideas, gear and talent.
Callinan sounds in step with OPUS's teutonic march Life Is Life, before completely transforming the twitchy Prince-lite of Momus' The Homosexual into lithe, tender acoustic folk. The Waterboys' Whole Of The Moon is rendered even more melodramatic and heart wrenching than the original and comes off like the theme song to the greatest 80s sitcom you never saw, while Randy Newman's Pretty Boy sticks largely faithful to the sombre original, and Public Image Limited's Rise ascends amidst Celtic guitars and television news clips. At the chronological and spiritual centre of the record - the eye of the storm - lies the title track and sole original composition. A stark, spacious instrumental, Return To Center's serenity is interrupted by maniacal laughter, assumedly Callinan's.
Return To Center glimmers with what Callinan describes as a "corporate spiritual" radiance. It is a punk rock meditation on record making, music past and present. For Callinan, it slices through a contradictory and confusing year of mistakes, exaggeration and misrepresentations to be his 'Return to Center'.
"In August, 2018 I embarked upon my most ambitious solo album to date. With the Terrible Records plastic in hand and USD $8888.88 on it I, along with producer Francois T, said label head honch Ethan S, creative consorts and L'Angeleno shred pigs ~ set out to purchase the most spartan assembly of instruments and studio equipment deemed necessary.
"Guitars, drums and keyboards of course; as well as mics, monitors, a mandolin and multi fx, cords and cables, bongos, congas, maracas, a djembe, sticks, brushes and plenty of plectrums, plus a brand-new new-age low-budget digital desk recorder / mixer thingy (to capture the imminent magic) and a quintuplet of coloured bulbs + lamp (for mood) ~ all from my favourite West Hollywood instrument shop.
"Our sonic palette & deadline was set. There would be no going back. Kinda. That night, day zero, in an east LA garage; Travis, my trusted engineer, and I would set it all and power it up. Boxes stacked n stocked away with price tags still intact, we began in earnest, honestly, on what would become an album worth of tunes that were and are even more so now some of the nearest and dearest songs to me.
"All within 14 days. All before our eventual eviction from that garage on 1024 Manzanita Street. All before our inescapable...Return To Center" – Kirin J Callinan
- 1. Life Is Life
- 2. The Homosexual
- 3. The Whole Of The Moon
- 4. It Takes A Muscle To Fall In Love
- 5. Pretty Boy
- 6. Return To Center
- 7. Rise
- 8. Signed Curtain
- 9. You Weren't In Love With Me
- 10. Vienna