Mick Karn – More Better Different

Mick Karn
More Better Different

Mick Karn is best known for his highly distinctive fretless bass sound. His contribution to the iconic Japan gave the band a unique sound, and by the time of Tin Drum, he was dubbed one of the best bass players in the world. After Japan broke up in the mid-1980s, Karn was the first member to have a solo album and furthermore collaborated with a diverse crowd of musicians including Gary Numan, Jan Garberek, Peter Murphy, Kate Bush, and Joan Armatrading.

Eschewing collaborators on More Better Different, Karn plays all instruments on the album including wal bass guitar, guitar, bass clarinet, keyboards, samples, and vocals – as well as producing the effort. Unfortunately this allows him no escape from the blame that must be applied for the clearly over-inflated title. However, he has created music that is dark and moody, often built around a bass groove combined with innovative instrumentation and a sense of dynamics.

I really enjoyed Mick Karn’s first post-Japan albums (Titles and Dreams of Reason Produce Monsters) as well as some his later funk/jazz fusion stuff with David Torn and others. This album starts off as quite an upbeat affair, with an ethno-funk feel, but then descends into ambient meandering buoyed up by Karn’s trademark fretless bass. The best track is “The Show,” which features some glitchy and spooky electronics and some excellent guitar work.

The album drags at the end with “Pulsating Puddles” as a bass-led ambient piece that goes nowhere and “Great Day in the Morning,” which is in need of an editing as it is too repetitive.

Karn may be a master bassist, but his lyric writing skills need to be improved, especially his rhyme schemes, which are strictly of the junior-high poetry variety. The songs are much more enjoyable when they stay instrumental, or perhaps this is where a collaborator could have been used.

More Better Different is not Karn’s best work, and I’d advise you to look elsewhere if you want to get into his music (either the albums I’ve mentioned above or The Mick Karn Collector’s Edition), but if you like Mick Karn already, then this is still worth a listen.