︎︎︎Info


Title
Vacation Man
Format
CS, Digital
Date
2018.12.19.
Label
Galtta
Publisher
Adrian Knight Music
Total Time
42’32”








︎︎︎Tracklist

01    Launch Time
02    Vacation Man
03    Solitary Way
04    Too Late
05    Looking For My Love
06    Suit Up
07    Back To The Playpen
08    Waiting To See
09    Anna Marie
10    Radiogram



︎︎︎Credits

Adrian Knight
lead vocals
backing vocals
keyboards
synths
guitars
bass
percussion
engineering
mixing
typesetting
Michael Advensky
drums, percussion
David Lackner
woodwinds
Alice Cohen     
backing vocals
Nick Stevens
trombone
Carl Saff
mastering
Tom Henry
artwork



︎︎︎Note

Vacation Man is the 5th solo record by Adrian Knight (Blue Jazz TV, Synthetic Love Dream, Private Elevators). A surrealist trip around the imagination, with Tom Henry's album art serving up visual commentary: a hospital waiting room with visions of outer space, and of course a life size tropical beach scenic. What is it all about?

If you've heard any of his previous releases you know Knight is a one of a kind songwriter and arranger. If you have not, you are missing out, and this is perfect place to start! Put on your seat belts!

Playing most of the instruments himself, the songs take on a hi-fi, hi-gloss sheen that has come to be the signature sound of the "Skymall Studio". Recent releases from Skymall, produced by Adrian, include On the Prowl Again, Gotta Have It! by Purelle, and The New Age by Nick Stevens.

Vacation Man features Knight's stacks of vocals, bass (Swedish Strut™), plucky guitar work, and of course a buffet of synthesizers. With a little help from his friends: drummer Mike Advensky (Blue Jazz TV), additional vocals from Alice Cohen (The Vels, Die Monster Die, Old English Spelling Bee), sax and flute from David Lackner, and a trombone cameo by Nick Stevens.

Vacation Man is an all expenses paid trip starting in the "data room", continuing through the cosmos, perfect beaches, quick stop at the "playpen", love found and lost, and all that life has to offer. Then again, maybe it's just a hospital waiting room, and soon enough, you too will be joining the cosmos...

—Galtta



︎︎︎Press

‹‹ Spools Out, The Quietus (Tristan Bath) ››

Like the yacht rock daddies of yesteryear, Adrian Knight is here to take you away for a while. The Brooklyn-based Knight dropped this one just before the new year, drifting out of the shitshow of 2018 with a well-tailored grace matched only by Lewis Baloue, piña colada in hand, all fucks firmly ungiven. The Van Goghian waiting room portrayed on the cover, idyllic beach blaring up the wall over a dimly greying carpet, does well to summarise the music on Vacation Man. This is music cut from the most tasteless, tawdry and tacky of tools. And it’s somehow all the more blissful for it.

The irony isn’t ladled on as heavily as one might expect for an album of postmodern soft pop issued by a Brooklyn tape label. Tunes like the six-minute ‘Looking For My Love’ trace jazzy melodic routes around oddly complex structures, replete with flute licks and sax accents behind Knight and backing singer, resting happily on the song’s genuinely hooky refrain.

The main effects of the tape (to my ear) are two-fold. Firstly, deploying vintage yuppie syntax in an era when it holds no currency has a strange allure. Listening to this, I’m essentially enjoying the sickly sweet taste of commercialism without any of its moral drawbacks. Secondly, the sheer inoffensiveness of these tunes is some warm relief from the cold cynicism and evils of new modernity. Simply put, the synth bounce, rich vocal harmonies, BBC Radio 2 vibes, silky smooth guitar twangs, and root-note basslines of this are utterly undemanding. There’s arguably also a veiled melancholy behind everything here: the very idea of the proverbial ‘vacation man’ is kind of downbeat – a troubled man in need of shelter and relief from the world outside. But taken in earnest, Vacation Man is as rich, relaxing and sunny as a Floridian beach trip, that is to say, thoroughly imperfect. 



‹‹ Tabs Out (Ryan Masteller) ››

I wish I was Adrian Knight. I mean, not even a little bit – I WANT to be him, like BE HIM be him. That unflinching coolness is something to aspire to, and no reviewer worth their salt would ever omit the term “smooth operator” in a write up of one of his albums. I wanted to get that out of the way so you know I’m serious. I’m not joking in any way at all. I want to – no, I MUST attain a modicum of that lifestyle in order to truly feel like I’m a complete version of myself.

But to dismiss Knight’s laid-back cocktail funk as a put-on, as some kind of nu-yacht rock is a little disingenuous. This isn’t the Swedish expat’s first rodeo, as he’s got a couple other releases on Galtta, both of the solo variety and as part of Blue Jazz TV, and elsewhere, as part of Private Elevators and Synthetic Love Dream Ensemble. He’s an unstoppable force of dreamy, self-reflective and utterly streamlined songwriting, and he continues to hone his craft into amazing disco-pop-funk reveries. Kind of like if fellow countryman Jens Lekman ended up fronting a live vaporwave band, or something along those lines. That’s not even close to a perfect description. But it sure sounds fun!

“Vacation Man” will convince you that you need a permanent holiday from everyday business life, as if the boardrooms and the corner offices don’t hold the secrets to success that you once dreamed of. I feel this way too – I’m with you guys. But even though this is exactly the kind of situation the music of “Vacation Man” seems to shove into your imagination, it’s actually – and, shhh, it might be a secret – kind of a condemnation of it. See, the title track itself even goes “Stand down, Vacation Man, no one can save you now” on its chorus. Whaddayou mean by that?! Does that mean that every hope sprung forth by Adrian Knight here, every desire, is just a wisp of nothingness that’ll leave me hollow inside?

I don’t know what to think – I don’t even know who I am anymore.

No, wait – I’ll just press play on “Vacation Man,” then I’ll feel good about myself again. Well, until I realize what the lyrics are telling me, that is. Get your own copy (of 125) from Galtta!



‹‹ Bandcamp Snoop ››

I’ve always seen that cliche that the holidays is a slow time for new music.  In my four years of this blog, I’ve never had a difficult time finding music I love at this time of the year.  This year has been the exception.  I’ve been listening to a ton of music, but nothing until this new cassette from Adrian Knight motivated me to post something. “Vacation Man” has just been released on Galtta Media (Brooklyn). I last posted about this label in February 2016 (Blue Jazz TV).  At the time I mentioned Steely Dan, Level 42 and Prefab Sprout.  Adrian Knight has the feel of those bands, but I would also add Ryan Power (he gets special thanks on “Vacation Man”) and the smooth feel of Tredici Bacci (both on NNA Tapes).



‹‹ Auxiliary Out ››

Considering Adrian Knight had such a huge hand in Nick Stevens's fantastic tape last summer, I was very keen to take a listen to Knight's new tape when it arrived earlier in the year. After dropping something like 15 releases in the past decade (not to mention his work on other people's projects like Stevens), the ever-prolific Knight rolls with a very distinct style and, admittedly, it's taken me a bit of time to figure out how I feel about it. To be honest, I'm still not quite sure, but that almost always turns out to be a good thing in my experience.

After a brief intro, Knight launches right into his patented concoction of jazz-funk-space-pop. Sounding like what would be ruling the charts in 2135 in a movie from 1996, a jump through a wormhole would no doubt reveal a host of socialites grooving to the title track along with their nano-vapor cocktails or whatever the party animals are ingesting at that point in time. The production is thick. So much going on at every moment. Palm-muted guitar plucks, multi-tracked vox, swinging bass, complex percussion and copious amounts of synthesizer. You almost don't even realize it when David Lackner drops in with his woodwinds because they're so thoroughly processed and blended into the arrangements.

I'm surprised that it has taken me so many years to realize this but I see a similarity in Knight and Canadian electro-pop weirdo Man Made Hill. But where Man Made Hill makes the decision to play it strange, Adrian Knight makes the stranger decision to play it straight. Knight really leans into the glossy kitsch and cheese factors that often shroud themselves in irony (if not make themselves the target of punchlines) and embraces them guilelessly with great vigor. It's easy to respect something so pure.

The one thing that holds me back is Knight's vocals aren't strong enough for my taste. They have a tendency to get lost in the hyperactive mix, perhaps blending in too well. That may be by design, as Knight seems to revel in blurring the edges of the bevy of elements in each track, and I may just not be aligning with his aesthetic. That's probably why I went bananas for the Nick Stevens tape; it features so many of the signature qualities I enjoy about Knight's work but with a more compelling vocal presence at the center.

With all that said, there are plenty of great tunes here, like the aforementioned title track and back to back romps "Waiting to See" and "Anna Marie"—the latter of which features the hook of the album courtesy of a plinky synth. Everything considered, the tape is a hell of a lot of fun. If you've ever wanted to groove like it's 2135, look no further.



‹‹ Nine Chains to the Moon ››

This gentleman is a Swedish ex-pat who lives in New York and is a mainstay of the Galtta Media empire, which is helmed by one David Lackner.  Adrian Knight may call NYC home, but he truly resides in a universe where corporate training videos, Club Med advertising, and a sort of post-nostalgic, morose funk all collide into a broken-down version of the American Dream. On the surface, everyone is all smiles, with perfectly coiffed hair, the right clothes, a great car, and a bronze body. Dig deeper and wage slavery is the rule, and we are all pining for some time away, all-inclusive, where we can plow down cocktails and gorge ourselves at the buffet trough. Enter Vacation Man.

The artwork accompanying this cassette is a painting of either a waiting room at a travel agency or the antechamber of a timeshare sales enclave. Fluorescent lights are dispersed in a T-bar drop ceiling, and the flat screen TV is probably displaying thinly-veiled advertising on a loop.  The magazines on the coffee table most likely offer maximum relaxation and all-you-can-eat. Perfection, at a price.

Sonically, Adrian Knight and friends (Lackner on woodwinds, Michael Advensky mans drums and percussion, Alice Cohen provides backing vocals, and Nick Stevens plays the trombone) echo the illusion of unlimited pleasure masking a woozy collective sadness. The music is almost polished, but cracks in the façade pop out frequently: an off-beat rhythmic element here, an out of tune synth there, a hint of melancholy in the lyrics.

But as much as Knight acknowledges the gloom, he’s sanguine and asks us for a similar perseverance. Be positive!  Revel in the illusion!  And his music leads us to succumb. We close our eyes, a wan smile on our faces, as we dream of our next escape. Thank you, Mr. Knight. Vacation Man – with its smooth rhythms and luscious woodwinds – might just get me through the rest of this brutal winter.

Released in an edition of 125, Vacation Man is still available from the Galtta Media Bandcamp, so head on over and drift into an alternate plane of existence.  Don’t worry, be happy!



‹‹ Why The Tapes Play (DJ Frederick) ››

At first blush, this cassette made me think it had fallen through a space-time vortex from 1979. Heavy influences range from Steely Dan to Alan Parsons Project and other late night rotation AM radio hits. As the music progresses, however, a vague sense of unease sets in. Nostalgia morphs into moden anxiety and the despair of unfulfilled relationships. Adrian's lyrics are edgy and spare no dark emotion:

Lost a whole week stuck in bed,
I couldn’t get up even if I tried,
Called in sick to make some space inside my head,
Karen at the pawnshop said,
you can’t just keep paddling on in the dangerous tide,
Lucy’s gone but you’re still alive...

and that's some of the lighter stuff. The last track, Radiogram, even sounded depressed, like it was recorded deep within the recesses of an abandoned factory at midnight. Vacation Man is no vacation. Musically, however, Vacation Man captivates with a surreal retro sensibility.



‹‹ Lost in a Sea of Sound (Robot) ››

Vacation Man, please do not despair, your dignity is still on the top of the charts. Listening to this massive testimonial to life and friends, your sorrows resonate with the drizzling rain outside the window. The years have gone by so quickly, remembering these tones and timbre from parents records and childhood radio. Adrian Knight shows how existence is cyclic, what was smooth and silky, discarded then found again. A polyester jacket, sewn with a large collar and zipper closure, sits in the closet. Removed from the hanger and worn again, still fascinating with bright multi colored patterns, but somehow out of place in modern fashion. These tracks are flipped from white to black, played in a hazy minor scale and radiating a melancholy beauty.

Adrian Knight has dialed the rotary phone and read poetry from his pocket notebook. Verse connected to emotion, thoughts of friends and their actions conveyed in composition. In order to impart these messages, the band is back together. A revolving mixture of GALTTA's studio band, Michael Advensky, Alice Cohen, David Lackner, Nick Stevens, along with Adrian Knight. All reveling the turn of the radio dial through temporal space. Stereo signals flicker as sounds from the Bee Gees, Carol King and Wings hold keys to both accord and sentiment. Taking cues from both harmony and sleek delivery, this well honed group of musicians finds grooves in the most special manner. A place where sound has gone, and no one until now has the channeling ability and talent to begin to match it. The beauty of Vacation Man is the connection to the past, and it's coconut butter twist on the future. Relevance is left for music scholars to figure on and they will ponder arduously...

Released on the GALTTA label from Brooklyn. Vacation Man is in an edition of one hundred and twenty five. Very importantly, the lyrics are available with download after purchase. Copies are currently available.

"Salt in my heart again, and in my soul, It’s in my ragged brain, and it consumes me whole"

Your radiogram is amazingly clear.



Copyright © by Adrian Knight 2022.
Front page illustration by Tom Henry.