Kowtow Drops the Pop Off
The title of Kowtow Popof's latest release, 'Kowtow Drops the Pop Off,' doesn't go far enough. The Rockville musician should drop the entire name, which is surely scaring away listeners. Far from the unlistenable eccentric his tag suggests, K.P. is a skilled songwriter, arranger and producer. Neither a rock purist nor a electronica zealot, he crafts music that balances songcraft with samples and swooshes. 'Kowtow Drops the Pop Off' previews eight selections from two upcoming albums, one of songs and another of instrumentals. Remarkably, K.P. is good at both. The disc's grabbers are 'Higher' and 'Life as a Hobby,' both tuneful, slightly bluesy rockers that favor guitar over synths. Yet such instrumentals as 'Run to Daylight' and the theremin-embellished 'Theme From Lucky Guy' aren't mere filler. Any guy who can invoke Dylan's 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door' while singing about 'Slim Jims & Tab' over a tick-tock electrobeat is not about to be typecast. -- Mark Jenkins, The Washington Post --- Kowtow Popof has continued to march to his own beat - one that's steeped in folk, garage rock, electronic experimentation and pop. With all those influences at work, it's not a shock to hear many different facets of Popof's personality shining through the material. And it's also not a shock to hear everything from instrumental ambiance to gleaming pop-rock. Simple, clean songs that don't work too hard to bring out the emotional and occasionally transcendental nature of a gifted songwriter. A time-tested recipe that always goes down well. -- Heidi Drockelman, Indie-Music.com --- It is the time of Sputnik. Sci-fi author Robert A. Heinlein slides behind the wheel of his '57 Chevy, turns on the radio, and tunes in a station far left of the dial, a distant signal carrying music from the future. Today the DJ is playing a postmodern instrumental rave-up called 'Run to Daylight.' The drums pound and the acoustic guitar jangles, a pair of sticks and a vintage Harmony staking a rhythm around the campfire. Heinlein drops his car into drive and hits the gas. The future is far away, but it's all right here. And there is nothing but space in which to get lost. So begins Kowtow Drops the Pop Off, the new EP from Rockville, Maryland-based singer-songwriter Kowtow Popof. Part instrumental, part lyric-based song, the eight-song disc bristles with imagination and energy, a sonic signature refined over three previous CDs. Popof blends his most audible influences -- Peter Gabriel, Graham Parker, Bill Nelson -- to unique effect, shuttling the listener to a locale that calls to mind nothing so much as Walt Disney's Tomorrowland. It is a past vision of a future world, a dream of what life was supposed to become after Elvis and the Beatles migrated to oldies radio. The irrepressible 'Higher' evokes Ray Davies' hopeful fatalism with a descending figure reminiscent of 'Sunny Afternoon.' 'Life as Hobby' and 'Things That Aren't Comets' eclipse the sunlight, but then allow it to seep, inevitably, back into the sky. 'Theme from Lucky Guy' and 'Deep & Deeper' introduce an alien surrealism to the open-air galleries, filling them with nostalgic dance-pop for robots in love. 'Slim Jims & Tab,' a contemplative coda suggesting daylight is ultimately chased more than reached, illuminates what remains of the ride. By the time 'Floaters' rolls in, the listener is drifting through space, pondering the unmistakable echoes of 'Run to Daylight.' Behind a lush leading edge of vocals, guitars and keyboards, Popof augments his miniatures with blips, whooshes and samples, some of which rise to the level of freestanding hooks ('Deep & Deeper'). The effect is one of rootsy orchestration, like Steve Earle leading a computerized version of the London Philharmonic. It is real and synthetic and entirely credible in 2003. As sure-handedly as it plays, Kowtow Drops the Pop Off suggests answers are in short supply for a stranger in a strange land. Evident or not, though, they're right here -- in the grooves -- if you'll just fire up the Chevy and listen. -- CD liner notes, Mark Doyon, Wampus Multimedia.