K.C. Bowman's skewed art pop begs comparisons to XTC, early Talking Heads, R. Stevie Moore, Martin Newell, Beck, and other hermetic talents, but the D.I.Y. one-man band has an eclectic, spirited take on the history of pop music -- seemingly encompassing everything from ABBA to Captain Beefheart -- that makes his music refreshingly unique.
Growing up in suburban Davis, CA -- where in the third grade he sat next to fellow future indie rocker Shalini Chatterjee -- Kevin Charles Bowman taught himself to play piano by ear at a young age. His parents encouraged his musical pursuits by paying for piano and guitar lessons and buying the budding multi-instrumentalist a used drum set at the age of 13. The usual rounds of teenage garage bands then followed, culminating in a long-running ska-punk-pop act called Lawsuit. As Lawsuit played live around the Davis and Sacramento area, Bowman began developing a parallel solo career, making one-man band recordings in his home studio, which he dubbed Timber Trout Studios. Starting in 1992, Bowman began making recordings with members of Lawsuit, various other musician pals and by himself, with no particular plans for any of them. In 1995, Bowman collected 19 of these homemade recordings, gave the entire loose collective the inspired name the Preoccupied Pipers and released A Cooperative Audio Magazine, Volume 3, Number 1, Summer 1995. A grab bag that somehow manages to hang together despite its confusing origins, the album is an eclectic delight. In 1996, Bowman did it one better with the similarly retrospective double disc set Ubiquitous Lamp Twin Pack. The 40 tracks include solo demos of Lawsuit songs, band recordings, and more musical miscellany.
As Lawsuit broke up, Bowman began work on his first proper solo album, recording all the instruments and vocals himself. As opposed to the essentially random nature of the Preoccupied Pipers albums, which were primarily clearinghouses for old tapes, 1998's Fresher Tin Villages was recorded as a proper album. As if to exemplify that solidity, the first five or six short tracks blend into each other almost imperceptibly, creating the effect of one extended multi-part song.
Bowman began performing solo concerts after the release of Fresher Tin Villages, occasionally backed by like-minded friends but more often playing by himself. After a few unsettled years of sporadic recording while in the process of moving Timber Trout Studios to a permanent location, Bowman finally began working on his second solo album in earnest in early 2001. ~ Stewart Mason, Rovi