Like John Fahey or Leo Kottke, Kaki King is a virtuoso guitarist by trade, which means she generally puts out albums that showcase her skill. To a certain extent, King's third album, Until We Felt Red, is no exception. It's just that King's particular gifts are more suited to textured indie-rock songs than New Age, and the songs on the new record—produced by alt-rock legend John McEntire—could pass for some of the softer passages of Lush or My Bloody Valentine, or any other of those early-'90s dream-pop bands that prized environment over melody. Even when King adds her voice to the mix, as she does on the album-opening "Yellowcake," her breathy tone works with the skittering acoustic guitar and distant slide to create an atmosphere not unlike a sun-dappled clearing in the woods.
McEntire pushes Until We Felt Red into generic post-rock territory at times, vibes and all, and King sometimes ventures too far into formless noodling. But she balances a strong traditional side with a streak of ambition. She brings the two together on "You Don't Have To Be Afraid," an eight-minute suite that begins with cascading guitars, murmurs, and a percussion track so soft that it almost sounds like a needle stuck at the end of a groove. Then the song opens up spectacularly, with chimes, organ, distortion, and horns bursting open on cue. "You Don't Have To Be Afraid" has a logic and momentum, and like a lot of Until We Felt Red, it evokes the feeling of sudden storms and their immediate wake.