In the world of background rock or soundtrack rock or ambient
rock, there has been a huge movement over the last several
years, and it has produced some amazing talents along the
lines of Tortoise and Mogwai and Portishead.
Mesh all the math rock and atmosphere and lounge together
and run it through the sound-o-matic and what you hear on
the other side may just be the soft and smooth sounds of Parker
and Lily. A veritable one-man band, with a girl thrown
in for fun and sonic joys, P&L is a sometimes relaxing
and always-engaging listen. Background music for the not-so-background
"Two Years In The Air" sets the pace for the record
with its almost nonexistent music and its understated vocals.
Nicely floating guitars and vibey organs comprise the meat
of the song. "Mandarin" is almost there even less,
with its David Lynch-esque pianos and hint-of-twang
guitars. "My Golden Arm" speeds the record up to
a driving 76 or so beats per minute, and features for the
first time the lovely voice of Lily, as well as some heavily
effected steel guitar playing, courtesy of some guy with a
keen haircut named Matt. This song is a veritable orgy
of tremolo-laced guitar and electronic drums and unintelligible
lyrics. Out come the whale song sounds on "P.S.",
another chiming and organ-filled slow paced trance track that
exudes mystery and headachiness due to the feedback and slidey
guitars. If you’ve drifted to sleep by this time in the record,
this song is almost certain to wake some part of your consciousness
back up. After that (not) brief interlude, "Waitress"
brings back the vocals of Parker and is a quick reminder of
what can be beautiful in this record rather than headache
causing. The modulating Wurlitzer organs are eerily familiar
and carry the misting song along on its slow course of music
box plinkings and vibes. "Tokyo" is my favorite
track, and has very prominent Fall-style vocals that
sit atop a nicely arpeggiated guitar line and spooky clown
organ. We’re talking Killer Klowns here, man!
The second half of this record is dubbed as songs from the
film Winterland. I have no idea what that film is,
but I’m certain it would terrify someone as averse to Wizard
Of Oz trickery as I am. "Desert Holiday" is
like beginning the record all over again, only with drums
to accompany the vibes and organs and disembodied vocals.
Let it be known that sometimes its good to not understand
the words to a song, as I’m sure it would lend an even more
sinister air to some of the songs. "Morley" is a
continuation of this same abstract horror feeling, with its
odd stoppings and startings and feedbackings and vibings.
"Only Heartbreak For Me" has the first truly intelligible
lyrics on the record, as well as some of the most easily listened
to sounds… with the exception of the crazy steel guitar parts
that sound almost like sliding brass instruments. Fun and
interesting, but not necessarily easy. "The World On
Time" is an almost James Bond theme, falling just short
of that striven-for goal. What it lacks in spy energy it makes
up for in vibe charisma and jazz brush snare, baby. "What’s
An Dubliette?" has a beat and some twangy guitars and
its rockabilly and space rock and loungishness and everything
all at once. In short, it’s good.
The beauty of this record, and this entire music genre for
that matter (other than the atmosphere of opium induced splendor),
is in the understated elegance of sound structure and the
space of what is not there, rather than what is so evidently
THERE. P&L make good use of silence and melody both, and
are well worth a trance-induced listen. The coolest thing
about this record though, is the artwork on the CD itself…
and the cool photos inside the cover… and the fact that the
music is eerie and easy and hard all at once. On your space/math/ambience
rock scale of 1 to 10, 1 being something bad and 10 being
Mogwai’s Come On Die Young, P&L sits a comfortable
6 or 7, depending on the time of day. Music to sleep to? For
sure! Music to dream nice dreams to? Not so sure….
- Two Years In The Air
- My Golden Arm
- Desert Holiday
- Only Heartbreak For Me
- The World On Time
- What’s An Dubliette
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