They say long live the king and all, but nothing's ever set in stone. A quarter of a century since his self-inflicted coronation and self-released debut solo album, Kenny Anderson - DIY pop voyager, ancestral seaside home restorer, squeezebox lothario, Fife for lifer, diamond miner, hijacker of hearts and the man also known as King Creosote - has released over 100 records (at a relatively conservative guess), collaborated with the likes of Jon Hopkins, KT Tunstall, Beta Band's Lone Pigeon and had his songs covered and performed by artists including Patti Smith and Simple Minds. Yet he's still standing, fallible, doubtful, patched together, bloody-minded and unbowed. He's got a new LP, despite or perhaps because of it all. It's called I DES.
And no, it hasn't bypassed a songwriter so buoyed by playful lyricism that the title of this latest release is an easy anagram of "Dies." But bear a couple of things in mind: 1) I DES is a reference to KC's key collaborator this time around - multi-instrumentalist and co-producer Derek O'Neill aka Des Lawson of Blantyre (2014's From Scotland With Love, 2016's Astronaut Meets Appleman); and 2) HRH King Creosote has been circling his demise for the entirety of his musakal life.
"I shan't complain," he rejoices on the album's most uplifting hymn Blue Marbled Elm Trees. "I had the best time laughing with my girls / I had the best life offered up / By this blue marble or any alien world."
Elsewhere on I DES, there are the previously released songs Susie Mullen and Walter de la Nightmare as well as the 36-minute Drone in B#. The record's kaleidoscopic musical terrain plots vibraphones, accordions, e-bows, samplers, ungulates, pipes, scratched records and wine glass-drones across its landscape. But there's common ground in the wonder of the synthesiser - not to mention Anderson's singular voice, and his roguish, roving, ever-evolving, gorgeous songs in the key of Fife.
It's tempting to assign KC's rekindled love for ambient and modular kicks to sublime co-conspirator Jon Hopkins (2007's Bombshell; 2011's Mercury Prize-shortlisted Diamond Mine), but - more directly - it's down to seeing Nils Frahm live in Edinburgh; to an enduring fascination with loops ("because we're always going back"); and to a book by David Stubbs. "I started listening to drones and stuff again because I read Future Days: Krautrock and the Building of Modern Germany," he offers.
The album was largely written between 2016 and 2020, but nothing is ever as simple as that: there's something old (trees), something blue (also trees), something borrowed (home tapes and vocals from through the ages; lyrics from the distant past), and something new (KC quips that a potential title for this album was We All Got Synths for Christmas).
And so here lies King Creosote: singer, songwriter, rose-tinted prevaricator, father of three beautiful daughters. He was born in the winter of 1967. Floods and blizzards raged that year, but everything grew and weathered the storm.
1. It's Sin That's Got Its Hold Upon Us
2. Blue Marbled Elm Trees
3. Burial Bleak
5. Walter de la Nightmare
6. Susie Mullen
7. Love is a Curse
9. Please Come Back I Will Listen, I Will Behave, I Will Toe the Line