KRAMIES – Kramies (Hidden Shoal Records)

KramiesKramies self-titled album drips with an impressionistic paintbrush. And then it slow dances and sings (without an umbrella!) in dramatic and very cinematic rain. It will certainly appeal to the gothic dimensional sound of (the great) Mercury Rev. But it also creeps with a psych underground flickered footstep of Pink Floyd, circa their More soundtrack.

Thankfully, somewhere on the planet, it’s always “High Time Cymbeline”.

The first song, ‘Days Of,’ is a woozy slow ride through dark night vapours. There’s a very human piano touch, while the vocals and sundry sounds swirl like a Twilight Zone calliope. This is eerie stuff.

Then, ‘Horses To Maine’ slows the caldron stir even more. This is voice and piano late-night confession. The intensity of Bill Fay (of Time Of The Last Persecution fame!) comes to mind. And random sound effects litter the soundscape, as deep drums and a ghostly trumpet enter the procession. This is intense stuff.

For the record, Kramies is the work of Dutch-American singer-songwriter Kramies Windt, who has worked with Spiritualized, Yo La Tango, Calexico, and Tyler Ramsey (of Band of Horses fame!). And just so you know, the name is pronounced “Kraim-iss”.

That said, the music continues to envelop any late-night contemplation with an oddly discomforting beauty. ‘Shitty Hotel in LA’ crawls with a soft melody that captures an old memory caught in Jurassic Park weirdly warm amber. But ‘Ohio I’ll Be Fine’ begins with acoustic guitar and banjo, and then it gets huge with a cinematic pulse. There are more acoustic guitars in spectral (and gorgeous) ‘You’d Be The Fall’. Odd – for all the dense colours in the songs, really magical melodies float to the psychic surface. Ditto for (the wonderfully titled) ‘Flowers From The Orphan’ which finds our Kramies duetting with Allison Lorenzen. To get all mythical about it, this is the song of Orpheus after that eternal and regretful glance. Indeed, these tunes bubble up from a lost at sea sailor’s sunken songbook.

My friend, Kilda Defnut, said, “You know, Richard Manuel’s soulful pathos fuelled comet’s wake will always have the brightest burn, but Joe Henry (of way too many brilliant albums!) follows in close orbit, and now, Kramies isn’t that far behind.”

Of course, my Kilda’s always spot on.

The final two songs continue the “soft parade.” ‘Owl And The Crow’ crawls with slow passion and gets intensely hot like a solitary votive candle in a seldom attended church. This is spectral stuff. And ‘4.44 am’ descends from the ethereal skies with acoustic guitars, graveyard procession percussion, and a voice gifted with old wisdom that ticks within the seconds of the sometimes foggy human time.

Indeed (again!) Kramies’ self-titled album drips with an impressionistic and timeless paintbrush that touches folklore, deep Jungian archetypal dreams, and melodies that swirl in the crossroad winds that conjure all the old ghosts, who sing with fresh wisdom, while they still manage to dance on ancient, acoustic, and very melodic graves. This is, quite simply, very beautiful music.

Bill Golembeski

Artist’s website:

‘Owl And The Crow’ – official video: