ALBUM REVIEW by Mark Gordon
(Staff blogger for Seattle Wave Radio) ~ ~
Purusa is an original Indie Rock band [with soul and blues influence] who call Portland, OR home. They have been performing since 1999 all over the west coast. Purusa’s sound is like that of Kings of Leon, Oleander, Jimmy Eat World, Collective Soul, and Pearl Jam, and have released two top selling Pacific Northwest CD’s prior to “Amnesia”.
Using life as a songwriting editor, Purusa’s latest album “Amnesia” can be looked upon as a collection of songs touching on suicide, guilt, survival, strength, episodic memories, and of finding hope, grace and healing in the wake of heartbreaking circumstances. WOW! That is some really deep reality, and they did masterfully.
Each of their 10 songs on Amnesia have complex and interesting melodies in conjunction with a wide dynamic range. Amnesia’s tone is both dark and bright, is pure, and both mellow and strained. Purusa’s album “Amnesia” will be considered by most to be their best to date.
Purusa is in the process of printing vinyl for Amnesia and will be doing releases early in 2020. The album features huge contributions from Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, REM, Big Star) who sang backing vocals and played numerous instruments on all of the tracks in addition to providing production direction.
Purchase Amnesia on: iTunes
Andy King – drums
Kris Kirkman – vocals, guitar
Zach Hinkleman – guitar, vocals
Dave Boyle – bass, vocals
" An Interview With Kris Kirkman "
Purusa’s lead singer Kris Kirkman recently answered some questions for a radio podcast regarding a couple of the songs and their new album Amnesia. Here is what Kris had to say:
(Q): Tell us about this song is… *Julien
Its musical influences, instrumentation. What is it about and why it’s a significant song to you? What kind of impact would this song have on someone?
(KRIS): Julien is a song I wrote about my high school friend, Julien, who ended his own life at age 15. He and I were born on the same day of the same year and his suicide came at a time in my life when I too was contemplating, and had come just inches from committing suicide myself. Julien’s suicide had a massive impact on me, but perhaps the most powerful lesson was the raw and violently exposed truth and example that ending your life is not the way out. The chorus lyric “Julien, I don’t agree, but Julien, I think you saved me” speaks directly to this. ‘Julien’ is special and important enough to me, simply due to the subject. However, the way it was written is by far the most significant part of the story of this song.
Many years after Julien’s death, I fell asleep on my couch in the afternoon and quite literally dreamt this song. The lyrics, the melody, the sound, it all came to me in a dream. When I woke up, 95% of the song was written and I scrambled to find a piece of paper to write everything down before I forgot it all. I simply had to transpose the sound in my head to a guitar part and I was done. It took maybe 4 minutes. The song was originally written as a flat picking song, that was mellow and a bit haunting. When the band got a hold of it, the song transformed into a powerful, catchy rock song that in some ways itself defines Purusa’s sound. The melody did not change, but the band brought the song a life and power that I could never imagine when I wrote it.
(Q): The music you are creating is…
and how is Amnesia’s release important to your music direction at this time?
(KRIS): The song Julien, and the album Amnesia, represent a great deal of pride for Purusa. This album in many ways feels like the most collaborative and strong piece of work we have ever put together, and there is a reason we picked Julien to start the album. The band’s varied influences, from 60’s soul to 90’s Rock, finally settles into a strong direction on this album and Julien is a good open door to that.
(Q): What is your driving passion to be in the music profession… *
Tell us why you create music, what you love most about performing or what inspires you most about what you do.
(KRIS): Personally, I create music because I have to. I can’t imagine a life without songwriting, singing, and musical collaboration. It is part of who I am that is inseparable. There are two distinct things that I love about performing music. One is the chemistry with the band and that feeling of being lost in the music, feeling like it’s automatic and that the four of us are working as one large instrument. That is kind of an indescribable feeling and high. The second is the connection with the audience. Even if it’s just one person, if our music can connect with someone on a higher level, beyond just enjoying the sound, that is truly special. When our music moves people to dance, cry, scream, smile, then we’re doing it right.
(Q): Tell us about this song is… *Memory
Its musical influences, its instrumentation. What is the song Memory about and why it’s a significant song to you? What kind of impact would this song have on someone?
(KRIS): The music for Memory was written by our Guitarist, Zach Hinkleman. His influences are broad…ranging from Muddy Waters to 80’s Glam Rock. The song is really centered around the guitar hook that he wrote, which opens the song. I took his recording of the music home with me and wrote melody and lyrics, then the band ironed out the full structure of the song. My influences are rooted pretty heavily in Soul Music and 90’s Grunge and Alternative Rock. I feel like, if you’re listening for it, Memory gives you a little bit of everything, as far as the musical influences that Purusa pulls from. That is part of the reason I love this song.
The subject of the song was inspired by a radio program I heard last year which discussed the development of prescription medication that would effectively erase a patient’s memory, for the purposes of treating PTSD. I was struck by the obviously controversial nature of this idea, and also by the defense of this strategy, by its proponents. There is plenty of sound reasoning behind helping those suffering from PTSD, but what hit me the most about the discussion was this point made by the presenter: such a large percentage of each of our memories are actually false or fabricated. Either in whole or at least in part. This applies to not only traumatic memories, but also generic life event memories. Their point was that so much of what we ‘remember’ is wholly inaccurate, fabricated or twisted by us, subconsciously, to serve a purpose, and therefore we should not put such a premium on a person’s memory. Psychological experiments in which people’s memories were altered, changed, or completely fabricated with simple suggestions and conversations, were cited. I reflected on my own personal memories and the countless instances where I, and someone with whom I share a life experience and memory, disagree fully about the details of the event that we both experienced together. Clearly, one of us is right and one is wrong, but we both ‘remember’ the details in a specific, and different way. Contemplating this sent me down a bit of a scary rabbit hole of thought about my own life and memories and how much of them were actually correct and real.
Memory is a song that perfectly encapsulates Purusa’s sound and varied influences, from metal to soul. Purusa has always pulled from a huge range of influences and never apologized for wearing those influences on our sleeve. This song is a good intro to the band for someone who has never heard us.
(Q): What are you and your band Purusa most excited about right now?
(KRIS): We are pretty thrilled to be releasing Amnesia on vinyl soon. Once vinyl is pressed, we will be throwing a big party to officially release this album in 2020. We also plan to tour California again in the coming year and are working on some big shows sharing the stage with a platinum selling band from the 90s.
Thank you, Kris, for your time to stop by the studio and tell us about your new album release “AMNESIA”.
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Podcast and interview questions were by AVA LIVE RADIO