See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Wednesday, August 11, 1999

Better red than dead

Posted By on Wed, Aug 11, 1999 at 12:00 AM

How relentless is Mayo Thompson? After more than 30 years of crusading as the Red Krayola, the man is still pushing the limits of the anarchistic song structures that lie somewhere between rock and art. And while Thompson’s original bandmates, Frederick Barthelme and Steve Cunningham, are long gone, they are not completely forgotten. On Fingerpainting, sole survivor Thompson resurrects old compositions by the Red Krayola and mixes them up with archival recordings of the band from each decade of their incredibly long existence. Harking back to the trend-setting "Free Form Freak Outs" of their 1967 debut, The Parable of Arable Land, such fresh Krayolas as David Grubbs, Stephen Prina and ex-Minuteman George Hurley smear themselves all around the vintage visions of chairman Mayo. Certainly, dismissing Mayo’s legacy of fractured pop-exhibitionism as mere improvisational music would be a severe underestimate. More to the point is that Mr. Thompson seems to have anticipated the entire post-rock phenomenon by about 30 years.

This latest edition of the Krayola features a healthy balance between gentle little songs, distorted sonic mania and ambitious audio collages which seem influenced by William Burroughs’ cut-up methodology. There are also some unbelievably gorgeous instrumental passages amid all the deconstructivist breakdowns of stereotypical counterculture claptrap. The only real question here is whether or not Thompson is too smart for his own good, since the titles of his revitalized freak-outs are so long that they must be seen to be believed. In other words, the Red Krayola refuses to die!

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by Mitch Myers

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 13, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation