K. Leimer: Land of Look Behind (Remastered + Expanded)
Palace Of Lights

As a recording artist, Kerry Leimer would appear to have something of a dual career going on. On the one hand, the Palace Of Lights founder continues to produce new music, the most recent example the excellent 2016 set Re-enact; at the same time, select early releases have been re-emerging, among them A Period of Review (Rvng Intl., 2014) and Artificial Dance (Rvng Intl., 2015), the latter a more group-oriented collection credited to Savant. Naturally, the concurrent issuing of new and early work makes for a fascinating comparison study, given the dramatic differences in style and presentation between them. A key addition to Leimer's ongoing reclamation project is The Land of Look Behind, a soundtrack issued on vinyl for the first time since 1982 and in a remastered and expanded form; included with the LP are a four-page insert featuring commentary by Paul Dickow plus a digital download that supplements the album's eight songs with three previously unreleased tracks from the original sessions.

Directed and written by Alan Greenberg, the somewhat unconventional film that inspired the recording documents the funeral of Bob Marley, which obviously means that, geographically speaking, the primary reference point for the album is Jamaica. Yet while Leimer did use location recordings of funeral crowds and conversations with Jamaican musicians as source material, the musical realm broadens to encompass Fourth World territory in general. To that end, Land of Look Behind sits comfortably alongside other influential recordings of its time, among them Jon Hassell's Fourth World Vol. 1 - Possible Musics, Byrne & Eno's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, and Talking Heads' Remain in Light. It's no knock against Leimer that “The Cockpit” could be mistaken for a bonus cut from Eno's 1976 Music For Films or “Confusion in Belief” an unreleased track from the Byrne & Eno album (that warbly voice surfacing throughout “The City Far Below” could even pass for the Heads' one-time front-man); that such a thing is possible speaks to the sensibility these adventurous artists were sharing during a particularly fertile creative period.

Land of Look Behind augments Leimer's keyboard, bass guitar, synthesizer, percussion, and tape contributions with drums (traditional and electronic) and percussion by Kevin Hodges, David Keller, Steve Fisk, and James Keller, the leader also threading snippets from his then-previous album Closed System Potentials into the sound mix. Analog synthesizers, electric piano, and wobbly tape effects situate it in the ‘80s, never more so than during “Confusion in Belief,” where Leimer's own funk bass and clavinet playing are joined by the whoosh of heavily manipulated voice samples. At times the album drifts into quasi-ambient territory, the humid, sun-stroked synthetics of “The Outpost” a case in point; at other moments, percussive treatments add a muscular bottom end (see, for example, the rototom fills tumbling across the droning synthesizers in “This Land”).

The addition of the three bonus tracks engenders no disruptive alteration to the album's character, though the twelve-minute version of “The Cockpit” truly is supplemental to the release when the original already clocks in at eight. That it is supplemental in no way argues against the release, however, which offers a fascinating snapshot of Leimer's formative period and certainly fleshes out our still-evolving impression of him as a recording artist.

March 2017