Sunday, September 6, 2009
Palms It's Midnight in Honolulu. The beginning is primitive drum beatings and howlings. And then German, or not, she's singing in English isn't she, oh wait, now it's German. It's sensual. It's terrific. 15 years before Too Pure would have considered releasing this. The band name is stupid, the album title is stupid but the record is fabulous. It would have been on Too pure because Too Pure weren't always lame little fangirls who signed bands with beards. Did any of the original Too Pure bands have beards? Let's see Stereolab-uh, I don't think any of them could grow one, Moonshake-Dave Callahan can probably appreciate the primitivism of going unshaven but I don't think so, PJ Harvey-now I could see one of her band bearded but certainly not PJ, Seefeel-do beards go with drugs other than the hippy lettuce? Long Fin Killie-it would have been caught up in the cowbell, Mouse on Mars-uh, nope, Minxus-ah who cares about Minxus. You see, there's your proof, the greatest label in the hisotry of the world ever and not a beard among them. Granted I am not sure I've ever seen a photo of Seefeel so I could be making things up. But today everyone is bearded. On the website where I sometimes "try" out music before buying it they post photos of every band they link to and the art of band photography has taken a dramatic step backwards really. Every band looks lame and without effort, their uncoolness is all very natural. Sure sure most of them are making lame music as well but they could at least attempt to look good while making insufferable music and not completely assault each of our own good senses. Second song. The first was tribal, brutal, and now- a cheerful acoustic duet. Really. It's almost romantic until they get semi-doomy on the chorus and turn the blood chilled. It should have been on the soundtrack to Deadgirl. Animal Collective was. The Liars were, the Liars song really sounded perfect in the moment. You should go see Deadgirl. "Don't dance by yourself, dance into the light". It's lovely really. Germany may have former communists take a major step towards national office because they are meant to come close to taking office in one of the departments in the west, in Saarland, Oskar Lafonatine. Is he related to Pat Lafontaine? Pat Lafontaine grew up in my neighbourhood. There are avowed communists in the American government, it's frightfully chic at the moment, private property rights are so passe'. Third song, another acoustic strum along but multi-tracked female voice instead of a male-female sing-songathon. It's dreamy and charming, but in that darkly forlorn manner so endearing to Germans. Angela Merkel in lecture tone, pant suit and physics. Already over. Many short songs. Next track, some french, some carnivalesque wheezing organ and then spaced out super synths, pretty cool. It's back to the dark matters at hand. Sounds like some sort of human squeal electronically affected, and a laconic pace, some guitar, it's all very random sounding but its cacophony is an apt metaphor for European politics. Communists in Germany, Magyarisers in Hungary, steroid junkies in the Kremlin. It's all very silly. This is mainly instrumental with some dread pale conversation going on underneath, it's lovely. Lovely is the wrong word. Lovely was Rudi Arapahoe, this is pretty but in the sense that Joy Division was pretty, that the serene atmosphere they plied their trade in was pure and uncontaminated, artful and melancholic. This isn't on that level, obviously, but it exists in its own vacuum of indifference to popular sentiment and tee shirt sales. They weren't on the Glastonbury Highlights show I watched part of this aftrnoon, in High Definition, but the Ting Tings were and Bloc Party. Bloc Party are four of the dullest boys on earth. They might make a song like this but somehow I'd have been bored by it straight off. Next track, more electronics, more woozy ambience, more of kilter emotions, her coos leavening the mix, a dream sighting of souls and anit-souls mixing in the aether. It's probably very well engineered. It could be a monument to the Solvay conferences of yore. This is the ethereal moment, the track that vaguely underlines the extant manifesto of their forebears. It isn't anything at all like Kraftwerk or Neu or Can, well a bit like Neu and the Velvet Underground. All your favorite Germans. Too Pure was obsessed with Can, they would do wise to remember that at one point nearly every band on the label was in some possibly minor way indebted to Can. I hate Can but it is very much like the relationship I have with the Velvet Underground in that I love most of the bands that cite Can as a direct influence and I can appreciate Jaki Liebezeit most of all. Next track, more primal urgings, sexual incantations, wordless exhultations. Semi-Wordless. The music is rote and uninteresting, Amerikkkan, but it fits perfectly into the model of social aggro blood from a stone rock, now there is a climax, a panting screech. Delirious. Beth Ditto should listen and learn. Now the guy sings, he's coming off a bit like the fellow from Roxette. It's meant to be sinister and sleek and it isn't, it's a bit camp and friendly. I would have advised him against it. He's just followed a Skeptics-ish bit of meandering, unfocused impotent rage with some sort of man on the make posturing. Bah. He should stick to wearing PVC jackets and zip up leather boots and The Shins tee shirts and leave the singing to her. What's her name? I don't know anything at all about Palms. I am somewhat certain that they are a duo. Leather Daddies is over. Now another guitar ballad. Back to her singing. Agnieszka, it is very Velvet Underground and Nico. It is unremarkable except in its grasping for climax, you can sense in her voice a yearning for climax. I quite like this even as it is smothered by subdued hues and subtlety. Lyrics are silly. Are the lyrics written in German and then translated to English. He's singing again, I don't mind when I can't hear him, it adds a shadow to the tenderness, the sinister malevolence of male hormones and militarism. This is really really really Velvet Underground. It's very New York. Is the Amerikkkan from New York. I have been reading about Palms while writing this and yes, he is from New York, the music travels along the undersea cables between the USA and Britain and then is transported to Berlin by carrier pigeon where there is a cipher code that needs to be employed to reconfigure all of the notes on the page. It is top secret. Next track, air raid sirens, stukkas, drum machines in kitchen armoires. It isn't scary at all, it's relaxed, if you know it is coming just lie back and enjoy it right. As Bob Knight might say. Do it for your country. I like this. I like the mix of the possibly frightening(the ones in German) and the softer focus bits. Goethe versus Dreiser. He's shadowing her vocals again, down a telephone line, in a PVC jacket. It does remind me of the Skeptics. Was Nick Roughan involved? Maybe these two are the world's most devoted Nick Roughan fans in the world ever. It has that stale Auckland metally sound. This record will not be giving birth to anyone soon, but the German is key, David D'ath had that nasally Kiwi accent which made him sound like a muppet in comparison to the icy cool teutonic tones here. Nice. Last song. Piano, fairy tales told backwards, bones outside the body, music to make charcoal to. Black.