Kaki King, née Katherine King, is a guitarist and composer from Atlanta who works in a few different modes. Sometimes she conducts radical experiments with form, as in "Playing With Pink Noise," a piece so striking in its disregard for convention that it might have been drafted by Frank Gehry. Other times, her songs land in famiilar genres, whether they're pensive folk ("Life Being What It Is") or languid indie rock ("Pull Me Out Alive"). King's music is rewarding but seldom relaxing. She favors tension in her lyrics ("Life being what it is, we all dream of revenge"), and the songs bubble with musical ideas, even when they're not built around King's impossibly fast fingerpicking.
"Gay Sons of Lesbian Mothers," an instrumental from King's 2004 album ...Until We Felt Red, is an exception, a song that not only lets you relax but seems to encourage it. Though it sounds like a pretty piece of pop electronica--mechanized but warm, the kind of thing RJD2 or Prefuse 73 might dream up in a mellow mood--"Gay Sons" is a lap-steel composition, with King manipulating the instrument to sound like drums, bass, and shimmering keyboards. She coaxes out a few lines of melody, loops them, and sets them circling warily around each other, till they form a melancholy, understated whole. I've found it's impossible to keep your attention on something else while this song is playing. It draws you in and holds you, like cake soaking up liqueur.
On iTunes: Kaki King / "Gay Sons of Lesbian Mothers"