The last time we heard from trombonist-turned-alt-soul-crooner Corey King, he was hypnotizing us with the outstanding “If,” from Lashes, his then-forthcoming Ropeadope solo album. Lashes has since been released, and this time around we have a visual to match the beautiful and mournful single “Ibaraki.”
Driving forward with a drum/guitar/bass/Wurlitzer groove wearing the frayed overcoat of the grooviest elements of Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys days, “Ibaraki” is an exercise in glimpsing the rawest elements of alt-soul’s 1960s genesis. It’s hazy, jagged, thumping through the walls and snaking out into the night.
“Ibaraki” borrows its sonic aesthetic from the earthy riffs of obscure Delta bluesmen and the barely-contained frenetic energy of vintage Cream and The Beatles. At the same time, it crackles with a subtle undercurrent of the best socially-subversive Black music of the last century. King’s smooth vocals do exactly what’s needed to service the song, much like Corinne Bailey Rae. There's no oversinging, no reach-for-the-rafters church runs. Still, he sacrifices none of the palpable emotion that is the hallmark of the best soul music.
The video for “Ibaraki” sets the stage for it all with a starkly cold visuals. Corey King’s world is unconcerned with the trappings of excess. It is Miles Davis turning his back to the audience to be absorbed by the genius of the sound. It is grainy, black-and-white glimpses of the man in the solitude of nature, yet ready for commercial consumption through a flickering screen. You can lean in to listen, settle in and view, but don’t get too close. It is art. Enjoy, but on the artist’s terms.