Our writer Julian Ramirez is a big proponent of physical media, always lauding formats new and old (mostly old nowadays). Whether is vinyl, cassettes or CDs; 4k UHD, Blu-ray, or VHSs, he believes that physical media is an important part of preserving art and imbues another dimension of appreciating the work. This series will focus on some of his favorite pieces of physical media in his collection.
Just a little bit over ten years ago, I started writing for Gapers Block. It was a small outlet out of Chicago focusing on arts, culture sports, you name it they covered it. I mainly wrote for their music section called Transmission. It was a blast and in those first six months really got me even more excited for music than I already was.
One of my first assignments was King Krule’s first Chicago show at Lincoln Hall. If that’s all it was or were to be, it’s a pretty big show considering King Krule's standing as one of the most interesting UK artists to debut since then. But in the following years this show has become something special to me. It was a show that wouldn’t have even been on my radar had my cousin Maya not recommended it to me months before on the way to other concert, really selling me on lead singer Archy Marshall’s voice and guitar work. 6 Feet Beneath The Moon was maybe a month old at the time and from the first listen of the opening track during that car ride, I was hooked.
Those droning strums of the album opener “Easy Easy “careen into Marshall’s unbelievably deep voice, much deeper than any 19 year old should have. It’s a stellar intro to Marshall and had I been more of aware of King Krule songs like “The Noose of Jah City” or “Out Getting Ribs” (a song that has become a personal and obvious fan favorite) would have set an insane bar for Marshall to meet. But the rest of the album does so marvelously.
The gentle and chill out jam that underlines “Neptune Estate” is almost the antithesis of “Lizard State”, a song that relishes in excess and boisterousness. The entire album vacillates between moments of calm (“Baby Blue”) or melancholy (“Cementality”) and jaunty tracks (“The Krockadile”).
When it finally came time to see the man and his band, I made sure to arrive early enough that the main floor wasn’t packed and the upstairs balcony seats were still plentiful. I took a little lap around the venue before I planted in my spot up, stopping at the merch stand for a sec to just to see what they had on hand. It was the usual spread of shirts from both King Krule and the opening band TOPS (who are also excellent), a screen-printed poster for the show by Leslie Herman, and physical copies of their respective albums. That’s when my eyes widened.
In the center of the table was a copy of 6 Feet Beneath The Moon , King Krule’s debut album, but it looked different. Instead of the typical black and white cover art created by Mister Gone, the cover was drawn over with colorful designs. It was as abstract as the original cover, signed mr. gone and priced at $10 more than the regular release. I asked the person behind the table what the deal was with this unique edition and she didn’t really know anything about them.
It feels dumb to say but I didn’t immediately purchase it. I thought about it for a long while but ended up back in my balcony seat with nothing. But every passing second my thoughts returned to that special looking edition of the album and before not too long I rushed back down to the table and immediately asked for a copy. Or what I thought would be a copy.
The record, which was sleeved to protect its unique designs, was also taped down to the table. I figured the King Krule crew had made a bunch of these records and they would just grab one from the back and hand over a non-display copy. But no, it was the one from the table getting cut from its sticky confines and handed over to me (along with one of those gorgeous posters).
Even without the the special drawn on art, the psychical album is a treasure. Mister Gone's art is displayed throughout the gatefold, highlighted by photographs of the band shot by Reuben Bastienne-Lewis. It a messy hand made style that works in tandem with the emotions and vocals that Archy Marshall pours over the albums instrumentals.
In the moments between sets I stopped back down to the merch table to pick up the opening band TOPS’ own debut album and they informed be that the King Krule crew had a very limited number of copies of those hand drawn albums, pretty much only having one per stop.
Months later I would come to find out that Mister Gone (mr. gone) was Jack Marshall, Archy Marshall’s brother, and likely the one who drew on my copy.
Years later I would find other fans that also had unique copies of 6 Feet Beneath The Moon from this tour. And a bunch of fans who wanted to buy my copy occasionally messaging me in hopes of purchasing it.
Just under nine years later, my cousin Maya, who opened my eyes to the sounds of King Krule passed away suddenly.
A little over a decade later I play my vinyl copy of the album while staring at it's uniwue cover. and am flooded with memories of the year it came out. Memories of jamming out to that album in car on the way to the show that now feels like a footnote. Memories of King Krule commanding the stage with a deftness far beyond his years. Memories of my cousin feeling proud about recommending such a damn fine band.
Physical media is not just owning something I could easily stream on the tons of available services. It's about the beauty of the physical item, the memories it can conjure, and the new ones that can be imbued on it.
You can purchase a copy of King Krule's 6 Feet beneath the Moon at your local record store or favorite online retailer. You can also stream the album if you must, but I highly recommend you get a physical copy.