'Celestial Gold' is the latest album by Kung Fu Jesus, a.k.a Craig Snape, who hails from Lanark, Scotland. This Kung Fu Jesus should not be confused with the coldwave, industrial metal band out of California that went by the same name. That Kung Fu Jesus revolved around Jeremy Zuckerman, famous for his guitar work on David Lee Roth's Diamond Dave, along with providing the musical score for Avatar: The Last Airbender.
This Kung Fu Jesus is a true renaissance man: he not only writes and sings, but he plays the majority of instruments on 'Celestial Gold' and sings background vocals. He does get a little help on the album. Robert Hamill plays accordion; Phil O'Shea arranges, plays keyboards and adds some of the drum-loops; and Keiran Allan provides additional background vocals and what is referred to as "spiritual dancing", whatever that entails.
There have been plenty of analogies thrown around to compare this Kung Fu Jesus to many musical heroes but, on listening, the most apt things to note would be the wonderful harmonies on that recall something of a bygone Beach Boys. The sensual nature of Kung Fu Jesus' songs are captured and delivered in a similar way to The Doors, while Dylan and Beck are cited because of Snape's humorous and captivating lyrics. Comparisons to the Sex Kittens is apt, since Kung Fu Jesus incorporates "distorted sonic mayhem" into his songs, without all the punk savagery and shrieking vocalizations that sound like tortured cats.
Two songs on the album, 'I'm On Fire' and 'God Thunder', resemble electronic dance music. 'God Thunder' includes African influences, a heavy beat that beguiles and tantalizes. The bass line in 'I'm On Fire' carries all the force of a 747 going ballistic, booming and thumping with hip-shaking energy.
'Smartphones', a new wave/rock tune, decries the proliferation and current societal addiction to synchronized electronic devices. The lyrics are half-serious and suspiciously ironic, which makes the song great fun as it pokes fun at the foibles of mankind, and its need to feel connected. 'Smartphones' would fit perfectly on albums by either Selena Gomez or Britany Spears, because of its teeny bopper flavour.
'Rainbow Road' and 'Ferris Wolf' combine salsa and reggae beats to wonderful effect. The former is reminiscent of K.C. and the Sunshine Band's popular sound, and may be the prize of the album, simply because of its shimmering beat. 'Golden One' is another excellent track. A laid-back funk beat drives the song, while chill vocals provide a cool vibe.
Snape, bedizened in vibrant colour like some musical alchemist, has concocted a truly unique sound, one that should keep audiophiles waiting with bated breath to see what he comes up with next. 'Celestial Gold' is indeed a golden offering of diverse genres of music amalgamated into a distinctive collection of songs.
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