41020 [2021)

A silver mt. zion.

Montreal.

Hotel tango.

Sighing synths.

Leonard Cohen.

Getting cold.

Lee Hazlewood.

Arizona into the Rockies.

Wyoming.

Road music.

Music of wide open spaces.

Charles Mingus checks in.

Bob Dylan.

Tumbleweeds.

Was QAnon bullshit?

WFMU seems to think so.

And all their hipster listeners.

Missing the Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

Chris Isaak.

My Bloody Valentine.

R.E.M.

Automatic for the people.

Rightly asking if this guy, Pauly Deathwish, is Borat.

Elvis working at the truck stop.

Nevada.

New Mexico.

Into French philosophy at a Barnes & Noble.

Film criticism.

Cinematic music.

The great philosophers.

Taking on Philip Glass.

Rachmaninoff.

Swedish version.

Poor girl with grey teeth.

Dirty bra.

Addicted to Kardashians.

And meth.

Smoking candy cigarettes.

Brutal, cold world.

No fall back.

Withdrawal back.

Wanna lock me for blood pressure.

It ain’t no cakewalk.

Ripoff.

Tech moves fast.

Write anything.

Better than nothing.

Bad press.

No press.

You have a printing press.

The Innocence Mission.

Miles.

Porgy and Bess.

A thousand planes.

Two ambient instrumentals to start this album.

Setting an amber tone.

Pensive.

Ex-pensive.

Time is a luxury.

And Miles comes in.

Bending notes.

Sighing again.

Like music from Big Pink.

John Simon.

Leonard Cohen.

Very much of the Deserter’s Songs type.

Song cycle.

Van Dyke.

And Coltrane leaps in.

No bends.

Solid sax.

Honky.

Low mids.

Leaping up.

Transposition.

A little noodling.

And WHAT THE FUCK.

Now we are in Blue Hawaii.

On a jukebox in Nashville.

Sawdust on the floor.

Just spit that tabaccy anywheres.

It really is Elvis.

Loaded.

Lou Reed.

Doo-wop.

We’re in east Texas with George Jones.

Straight country.

Classic country.

Bona fide redneck interpolation.

“Daisies on Your Doorstep”.

Troubled relationship.

Robert Altman.

Nashville.

Hitchcock.

Traut.

Birds.

Grandaddy invades!

Modesto!!

And back to EXPANSIVE verb.

Cathedral.

Serious shit.

Country gothic.

Phil Spector would have loved this.

The plandemic that killed Phil Spector.

Biggest celebrity to buy the farm.

Buy the farm?

Or sell the farm?

During this whole plandemic.

Write copy.

Boilerplate.

You have no publicity.

I block all reposts.

I wanna EARN it.

Organic.

Diminished 7th.

Dissolve into what?

More Mercury Rev homage.

Drums from “Desperado”.

Another lonely bloke ended by “Holes”.

Favorite song ever.

Happy end.

Drunk room.

Tom Waits.

The chord.

Spring.

Le Sacre.

Back to regularly scheduled programming.

Knife in the Water.

Austin.

R.E.M. again.

Big Star.

John Cale droning away on the viola.

No tremolo.

Swing it.

Ragged time.

Texarkana.

Arkansas.

And Texas.

Definite Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci nod.

Nick Drake.

Again The Innocence Mission.

Birds.

Pink Floyd.

Fairport Convention.

Psych barn.

The Byrds.

Gram Parsons.

Neil Young big time.

Stooges meet Beach Boys meet Messiaen.

But the Bowie knife is orange.

Made in Germany.

Kanye West and Wayne Coyne drop in.

An anti-hit.

When you can sing, but you get raped by auto-tune.

Loosen that shit up.

Going all Arabic on me.

Raga.

Spinal Tap.

Clouds of sound on almost every track.

A very ambient album.

Mood set.

Mood retained.

Mature.

Duran Duran.

Peaches DJ Berlin.

Where’s Warhol?

Nigel Godrich.

Jonny Greenwood.

Thom Yorke.

Grinderman.

Roger Waters again.

Microtonal blues.

Straight into Bjork.

Does she umlaut?

Sounds of a Mac.

Swan.

Alarm clock.

Gentle waking.

Paganini.

Rachmaninoff.

Elton John.

Stevie Wonder.

Sly Stone.

James Bond in Rio.

Drax.

Os Mutantes.

Jobim.

Korean frogs.

Shinto.

Spy guitar for reprise.

Tom Verlaine.

Richard Lloyd.

Paul Simon.

Rhythm of the saints.

Graceland.

Beethoven emperor concerto.

Slow.

Beloved.

Tokyo.

Press roll.

Sushi.

Kill bounce.

Phil Selway.

Colin Greenwood?

A masterful track.

“Icelandic Pastiche”.

NOW WE’RE TALKING.

Papa Trump back in the house.

For the apocalypse.

Rocky Balboa.

L.L. Cool J.

Jesus fucking Christ.

Second coming.

To save.

Vengeance is his.

Everyone given a chance.

A fair chance.

NASA.

I hear a single.

“Landslide”.

Wisconsin decertified.

Ramthun came through.

About fucking time.

There’s a riot goin’ on.

Paperclip Nazis.

Eric Carmen.

Smokey Robinson.

Tears of a motherfucking clown.

Oboe.

Michael Stipe.

Gil Evans.

Having the French horns get groovy.

Amelie.

Sketches of Spain.

Sunday morning.

Loveless.

Kevin Shields.

Belinda.

The Soft Bulletin.

Christ coming down from the clouds.

Like a ton of bricks.

Anvil.

Don’t call it a comeback.

Not all the way.

Staple Singers.

Rick Danko.

Rocket pans across stereo field.

Jesus talkin’.

Crucified.

Died.

Buried.

AND ROSE AGAIN, MOTHERFUCKERS.

Jesus more space than NASA.

Really a masterpiece of sample placement.

Crystal-clear mix.

Clouseau.

Peter Sellers.

Bass solo.

Absolute Mingus.

Bloody jaw-dropping.

This is like a fucking lost Roland Kirk album.

This track!

Concerto for Booty and Orchestra.

Montreux.

Can never spell.

System hacked.

No more spelling.

Adieu au langage.

Flute loops.

Cocteau Twins.

Ties together album.

Last track coming on like Faust.

Built to Spill.

Silver Apples.

In memory of a bloke who bit it.

End of Night on Earth.

Real recorder.

Charity.

You will live forever, my friend.

I never knew you.

You aren’t forgotten.

Thought of you put in this track.

Catharsis.

Yerself is steam.

Smashing Pumpkins.

Siamese.

Great album by Pauly Deathwish.

Spotify.

iTunes.

Solid.

-PD


zenith [2021)

Jesus and Mary Chain.

Black tar.

Caramelized sugar.

A dangerous confection.

Hit to Death in the Future Head.

Summer is here.

I hear.

Vacuum cleaner solo.

Theremin.

Race cars.

Boys peel out.

High-speed boats.

And again with the UPC scan.

Breaking up on reentry.

Serious audio fuckery.

And from this right into kung fu.  Peter Sellers on Bowie’s Low.  Trance.  But really what we have here is excellent counterpoint.  Lunatic Harness.  Polyrhythms.  Album breaks down soon.  Fast.  Abruptly.  Mental block regarding Wuhan origin.  Harmonic outline you would never find in China.  Terry Riley.  A Rainbow in Curved Air.  Eno.  Visconti.  And the others involved.  A beauty that inspired Philip Glass.  This is what we have.  Low and heroes.  Symphonies.  Glass.  Riley.  Minimalism.  Album called zenith.  Track two already hits “Nadir”.  What’s the arc here?  Arc-en-ciel?  Arkansas?  Immediately pensive.  Very unnerving.  Pop rock track.  Into existential oblivion.  Abrupt modulation.  Uncomfortable.  Eccentric.  Was there a thought process behind this?  Commerce ruins everything.  Imperfect masterpieces.  The rules of the game.  Radiohead.  Joseph Arthur?  Sparklehorse.  The Magnetic Fields.  Gay baritone.  Sad sack confessional poetry in the world of Berryman’s Dream Songs.  Brian Jonestown Massacre.  The Verve.  Strung out in heaven.  J. Spaceman shooting up while praying.  Don’t knock it…  Drug addiction is real.  Mental problems are real.  Here we are.  2020 fucked us up.  And now we wait for the next shoe to drop.  Smashing Pumpkins.  “Silver Fuck”?  Into Sonny Rollins?  Epstein.  Gene Ammons.  Hard to tell it’s (not) real.  Which parts?  Yes.  No.  Fooling the ear with Dave Fridmann.  A totally schizophrenic record so far.  Here we go!  “Belgian Lace, Pale Black Mascara…”  This is more like it.  Rollerskate Skinny.  Martin Rev.  Lots of counterpoint here.  Fux me up.  Disney xylophones.  Internal rhyme-sanity.  Dylan puking up brilliance.  Always Roger Waters with the bass.  Always The Wall.  Pompeii.  Hail to the Thief.  Again and again.  Trying to break new ground.  And it does.  Yerself is Steam.  Album starts to make sense after five tracks.  1 & 5.  This is not bullshit.  I don’t know about the jazz.  I don’t know about the monotonous instrumentals.  Absolutely “Car Wash Hair”.  Suzanne Thorpe would be proud.  Seems to be talking about tits.  A good ride.  Drum machine chugging away.  Can still have a good groove.  Wild Acoustic Chamber Orchestra.  W.A.C.O.  Woodwinds and glockenspiel.  Boces.  What the fuck is this shit?  O.K. computer.  Sounds like some QAnon stuff.  I feel Carlos Santana coming on.  This is what Assange jams out to.  Lots of plays at Fort Meade.  Salsa.  James Brown.  Puerto Rican funk.  As AOC goes to jail.  Serious national security issues for lyrics.  Fictional charges?  Tracers everywhere.  This theory involves an actual conspiracy.  Criminal conspiracy outlined.  By players.  Event 201.  Short circuit.  Johnny 5 is alive.  Legalistic funk.  QAnon wet dream.  FISAgate.  “Spy Gate”.  Somebody send this to Sean Hannity.  Obamagate.  Where is John Durham?  Ryan Dark White knows the truth about Rosenstein.  How many coup attempts by the Left?  Back to Billy Corgan.  Ok, so we have an Alex Jones connection.  Early-’90s goodness.  Butch Vig.  Dream pop.  James Iha.  Bet this guy knows the real story about the Standard Hotel(s).  Great lyrics!  Must be some inside jokes here.  But HOLY FUCK!  He nailed the “Holes” trumpet solo.  Deserter’s Songs.  God damn it.  How did they do this?  The liner notes say Pauly Deathwish has also produced all four of these albums.  Kind of a Jimmy Page thing going on.  Great drum sound.  Yo La Tengo.  “Mayonnaise”.  Siamese Dream.  Benjamin Britten reference?  Slick!  So this guy basically had a music education on par with Jack Nitzsche.  And then went for scumbag rockroll like Phil Spector.  Gotta respect this weird marriage.  This fascination with grunge.  Dinge.  And the facility to clean it up like a chandelier.  Very fucking impressive.  No record label.  Kinda sounds like no funding.  No budget.  The Delgados.  Hate.  The Great Eastern.  More Spiritualized telephony.  The Wall.  Which is to say, Bob Erzin.  And as dark as Berlin.  Which is to say, Bob Ezrin.  Neil Young vibe.  Tonight’s the Night.  Some dark-ass shit.  Nick Kent, where y@t?  IV Thieves.  Coulda done this.  What if Chris “Frenchie” Smith had produced this?  This kid like a protege.  I hear the moniker (stage name) was bestowed by Frenchie Smith.  Strings good.  Eastern European orchestra.  Must have cost a small fortune.  Arcade Fire.  French cinema.  Romantic-era harmony.  But pierced.  Sophisticated.  Absolutely Floyd.  “In The Flesh”.  Last track on Harvest.  Words between the lines.  The promise of the ’60s went to shit in the ’70s.  Where’s QAnon?  Where’s Nakasone?  Where’s CYBERCOM?  Keith Alexander on Amazon board.  Velvet Underground feeding back.  Les Rallizes Denudes.  Primal Scream.  “Swastika Eyes”.  ADAT.  DAT machine.  Sampling.  Stereolab.  Back to another standout track.  “Chaconne”.  Will Smith in the summertime.  Some slick shit.  Messiaen.  Jonny Greenwood.  Lyrics world-class.  All those sand paintings.  Write and destroy.  Suicide girls.  Thom Yorke’s brain doesn’t have this facility.  He’s a great stylist.  Definitely an homage.  And to Godard.  Snow white and psycho.  Heavy shit for Laetitia Sadier and Tim Gane to check out.  Not far from Faust IV.  So sweet.  John Paul Jones.  Ramble on.  Charlotte Gainsbourg.  Keren Ann.  Last track noisy as fuck.  Lo-fi.  Tom Waits.  Sticks together.  Some sad shit.  Music from Big Pink.  Mournful trombone(s).  John Simon.  “Bird on a Wire”.  They don’t make records like this anymore.  David Bowie not dead.  Great phrasing.  Sinatra.  Mark Linkous.  It’s a Wonderful Life.  Believable bass.  Upright citizen.  Bayou curious.  Noise floor drops out.  Some perverse humor here.  An “album”.  It is.  Ten songs.  Ten different directions.  Some tracks stick together.  Like a deck of cards shuffled.  Lots of variety.  Circus peanuts.  The orange ones.  Pure sugar.  Chewy.  Strange texture.  Lots of melancholy here.  What’s this bloke so sad about?  Tell Thurston Moore.  You gotta hear this shit.  Pauly Deathwish’s 4th album (this summer!).  Is this guy trying to set a Guinness record or something?  And he already has a 5th one out.  Christ!

-PD

Introversion [2021)

Teenage Fanclub.

That glow in The World’s End.

But a sadness.

THE sadness.

Emily Dickinson.

Unrequited.

Unattainable.

My Bloody Valentine.

Sloshy grunge hats.

Edge echo.

Chris Bell.

I Am the Cosmos.

Yerself Is Steam.

Slowdive.

Rutti.

Brian Eno.

The disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Tom Petty.

You don’t know how it feels.

J. Spaceman.

Abbey Road.

Air.

George Martin.

Beck.

Badfinger suicides.

Loser.

Spiritualized.

Royal Albert.

I can only give you everything.

Rick Danko.

Loping.

The Delgados.

Dave Fridmann.

Black magic warded off by honesty.

Good timing.

Divine.

Sigur Rós.

Nigel Godrich.

Pocket symphonies.

Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Serge on the way.

Lenny Bruce, even.

Hit to Death in the Future Head.

Wait at least until track three to break it down.

Southern Harmony and Musical Companion.

Gorecki.

Arvo Pärt.

Deserter’s Songs.

Absolutely.

The confusion of ridiculous counterpoint.

Aaron Copland.

Tonal, yet dissonant.

Thick Billy Corgan.

Siamese Dream.

Definitely a sadness here.

Dawn Upshaw.

Tabula rasa.

Death.

Immense Mellotron.

Tchaikovsky.

Abrupt modulation.

Sugar plum.

Lou Reed.

Ennio Morricone.

Cinema Paradiso.

All you need is hate.

Upstate.

Chaliapin.

Basso profundo.

Jussi Björling.

Dvořák.

Memorial day.

The Inflated Tear.

Columbus, Ohio with duct tape.

Debussy.

Posing with a bass clarinet.

Primal Scream.

Get Duffy.

Rock ferry.

Smokey Robinson.

Sad clown.

Dead clown.

Kinks.

Grasshopper.

Suzanne.

Woodwind quintet.

Did I ever write one?

Yes, I did.

César Franck.

Saint-Saëns.

Organ symphony.

Or is it contrabassoon?

Nadia Boulanger can tell you.

My teacher’s teacher (twice over).

The Left Banke.

LSD.

Herb Alpert?

Hummel.

Handel.

Strawberry fields.

Stereolab.

Unequivocally.

Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements.

A little lo-fi.

Vocal doubled.

Vox continental.

Great hook.

Changes that pull at your heartstrings.

More melancholy.

A fucking marimba solo?!?

Are you kidding me???

Makes sense.

Pauly Deathwish collaboration with Gordon Gano of Violent Femmes.

Lost Bayou Ramblers.

Gordon knew him as Death.

I have become death.

96 Tears.

Farfisa.

Partials.

Tim Gane tone.

Faust IV.

Doogie Howser?

Scary.

Impending.

Suspense.

Rock bass.

Ozzy.

Black Sabbath.

Amazing Grace.

Pete Townshend.

Front.

Back to J. Spaceman.

Dirty ass rock and roll with pristine horns.

Expensive drugs.

Sophisticated changes.

Éminence grise?

Is this the artist we’ve been waiting for?

Rodriguez?

R. Stevie Moore?

Wesley Willis?

Sounds like Jack Nitzsche.

Major Velvet vibes.

Suck-ceed twice.

Dylan with P-bass.

Mick Taylor.

Too much attitude.

Keith Richards.

Let it Come Down.

Shakespeare.

Fucker kicked the bucket.

First to be vaxxed.

Maricopa.

First Suicide album.

Bossa nova.

The Soft Bulletin.

Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space.

Gimme some lovin’?

Steve Winwood?

How old?

La Monte Young.

Slow changes.

First rehearsal tapes.

Alan Vega.

Martin Rev.

New York City heroin.

Warhol Factory torn down.

Across from YMCA.

Trump dances.

Great throwaway lyrics.

George Harrison.

Sound of universe.

Spacemen 3.

Savage tone.

Revolution.

Direct into mixing console.

Fried signal.

White album.

Sonic Youth.

Derek Bailey.

Lou ecstacy.

Late Lou.

European son.

Blood pressure rising.

Brutal.

Frankie Teardrop.

I think I’m in love.

Dub bass.

Will the circle remain unbroken?

When I had dinner with Roky.

13th Floor.

First Velvets album.

Heroin.

Drug rush.

Invincible.

But you gotta buy it.

Dirty Baltimore.

Cop shoot cop.

Cheree.

On the jukebox.

Eat at the gas station.

On tour.

First time in Texas.

American Supreme.

Iceland.

13 Angels.

It’s definitely Bowie.

New career.

Same town.

New old.

Old is new again.

Mercury Rev.

Savvy programming.

Dynamics.

Break beat.

A fuck ton of flutes.

Flute loops literally.

Bowie sax.

Little fluffy clouds.

Every drop.

Gay glam chorus.

Tony Visconti.

Don’t underestimate.

Pere Ubu.

First album.

Méliès.

Boys peel out.

Boces.

Inspector Clouseau.

Phone.

French ambulance.

Pants.

Gives me pants.

Videogames.

Cutting hole.

Pink Panther.

Herbert Lom.

A Shot in the Dark.

Grandaddy.

Under the Western Freeway.

Weeping willow.

Under that.

With Sean Mackowiak.

Square waves.

WarGames.

Tympani.

Rollerskate Skinny.

Dublin.

Kevin Shields.

Comes back loud.

One song mastered soft.

Definitely Low.

The main influence of Pauly Deathwish’s debut album.

Honegger.

Pacific 231.

Chariots of fire.

Vangelis.

Such a groove.

Nancarrow.

Polyrhythm.

Immense sadness.

By the side of a freeway.

Under an underpass.

Not like RHCP.

Much darker.

Like Godspeed.

Philip Glass.

Eno.

Blackstar.

How did a Trump supporter make this album?!?

I thought all Trump supporters were redneck morons???

This is way fucking better than Ariel Pink’s dabblings.

This sounds like a debut album.

Songs saved up.

Like The Strokes.

Cinematic as fuck.

Glitch Radiohead.

Trail of Dead.

Makes sense.

Because Pauly wrote the string arrangement on IX.

Dark.

Killers.

Disco compression.

Distressed.

These lyrics!

Johnny Rotten.

Trump 2021.

Snot on the crowd.

Arcade Fire.

Makes sense.

Lost Bayou Ramblers lost sessions.

Montreal studio.

This was all made on an iPhone?!?

Guy Debord.

Aladdin Sane.

Time.

Rick Wakeman?

Olivier Messiaen.

Major 7ths in uppermost range of piano.

Almost indistinguishable from octaves.

Eerie.

Slight.

Only for the sensuous ear.

The Wall.

Waters delayed bass.

No nonsense drums.

Humble Pie reference?!?

Ha!

Great lyrics!!

Predating new Bob Dylan album.

Check SoundCloud timestamp.

This is definitely the QAnon anthem.

This hook should be on a million conspiracy videos.

“10 Days of Darkness”.

Tell ’em Large Marge sent ya!

My end is my beginning is my end.

Grinderman.

No pussy.

Early-’90s.

Nirvana’s wake.

Finnegans Wake.

Great debut album (if I do say so myself).

Usual suspects.

Spotify.

iTunes.

Pauly Deathwish.

-PD

Frank [2014)

My dear friends, it is so good to be alive 🙂

But very difficult to be sick.

I must admit, it took me two days to watch this film.

This one hit a little too close to home.

But that’s ok.

Yes, I am finally feeling better on the allergy front.

Now I am struggling with that old nemesis of mine:  nicotine.

Yep, that’s right.

Trying to kick that habit.

Whoa (woozy feeling)…

Maybe did that a little too fast 🙂

But most of all, you know, every day I struggle with anxiety.

I don’t usually address it in such naked terms.

But it is fair here to talk about this biggest of all struggles for me.

Because Frank is a film about mental illness.

You know, if you apply for a job, you might get a “questionnaire” enquiring about your health.

America is very “democratic” and “fair” in hiring processes, but still these questionnaires persist.

And I suppose the last round of jobs I applied for (merely two) opened my eyes to the reality of my situation a bit.

Looking down the list of “conditions”, I realized I must (to be honest) check two boxes.

[Though the questionnaire was “voluntary”]

So I have “anxiety disorder” (big time!) and asthma (not so bad, but it can pop up).

So wow…I thought…man, these are listed as “disabilities” (if I remember correctly).

While some people might celebrate a disability condition, for me it’s not really cause for cheering.

But then I thought, “Wait…are these really disabilities?”

Well, I’m not going to give a medical/legal ruling on that (because, frankly [no pun intended] I don’t know).

But I know one thing:  anxiety can be totally debilitating.

I’ve had a really hard time readjusting to “life” after two and a half years of intense graduate studies.

I graduated about a month ago.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum…

My body just kinda shut down…gradually…in different ways.

That momentum which had carried me across the finish line evaporated.

And so life hasn’t been a bowl of cherries.

Anxiety is a bitch!

When I have nothing to realistically worry about, I find something.

If there is something from which worry can be derived, I will find it.

And it will drive me nuts.

At a certain point, one has to laugh at the ridiculousness of such an impulse.

[It’s not something I can very well control, you understand.]

And that brings us to our film Frank.

Frank is a fucked up guy.

Imagine the Jack in the Box guy from the commercials with the big fake head.

And then have that guy lead a rock band.

Yeah…

This film really defies all description.

So we have to dig a bit to really delineate what is going on in this masterful film.

First of all, this film has caused me to create a new category in my global survey of cinema for a country which I love (for a multitude of reasons):  Ireland.

Yes, Frank is an Irish film.

Funny enough, no one in the film has an Irish accent.

[Which begs the question, “Is it really an Irish film?”]

But I’m calling it an Irish film because I really admire the balls it took Lenny Abrahamson to make this picture.

Our director, Mr. Abrahamson, was born in Dublin in 1966.

Ok, it’s Irish (at least as far as “auteur theory” goes).

So what?

There’s something about Ireland which I get from the eccentrics.

James Joyce was the master of them all.

I will read Finnegans Wake till my dying day and still glory in the fact that I have no REAL idea what it’s truly about 🙂

But this film, Frank, takes us to a place I know very well:  rock and roll.

And more specifically:  indie rock.

It is a “genre” which attracts the most far-out individuals in the world.

And I must say, there were several times in this film where I could feel the spirit of one of my favorite bands of all time.

An Irish group.

Rollerskate Skinny.

Our director is 50.  I’m 40.

Maybe our frames of reference are different.

Youngsters might think Animal Collective or even the arduous process which produced Arcade Fire’s tortured Reflektor.

But Frank makes me think of that early-90s noise-pop wave which was spearheaded by bands like (my favorite group ever) Mercury Rev and Rollerskate Skinny.

When I see Frank, I see David Baker.

But I know my history.

I’ve studied weirdos all my life.

So I also see David Thomas of Pere Ubu.

And of course Don van Vliet (a.k.a. Captain Beefheart).

Frank is certainly a film which the “Pitchfork generation” should be able to get behind.

I’ve had dinner with Roky Erickson.

I’ve seen what Frank is groping for.

Yes, it’s that madness which made Syd Barrett great.

But such madness comes with a price.

We can listen to that first Pink Floyd album (The Piper at the Gates of Dawn)…songs like “Lucifer Sam” where Barrett is brilliant.

And we can trace that brilliance to his solo album The Madcap Laughs…songs like “No Good Trying”.

But to be SO fucked up…to be SO far out…it ain’t fun.

I’ve heard about Roky Erickson’s time at the Rusk State Hospital for the criminally insane.

It’s not a pretty picture.

But let’s talk about this damn film 🙂

It had me hooked once I caught faint traces of those first two Mercury Rev albums (Yerself is Steam and Boces) in the sounds I was hearing emanating from Soronprfbs.

Yes, Soronprfbs.

The perfect name to describe the obtuse band at the center of our story.

Here’s a band so weird, they don’t even know how to pronounce their own name (when they show up at SXSW).

[But I’m getting ahead of myself]

First, I was wrong about Irish accents.

Indeed, Frank is such a bizarre film that one soon forgets that Domhnall Gleeson is speaking in one for the entirety 🙂

Gleeson is in the right place at the right time.

It’s happened to me.

I once got a MySpace message (remember those days?) and spent the next four years in a Cajun punk rock band.

It can happen.

Those were the best years of my life.

But it’s HARD!

Taking a van back and forth (and back and forth) across the country.

Flying (I hate flying) to awesome, bizarre locales.

For someone with bad anxiety, these aren’t easy tasks.

And we see that in the character of Frank.

As I said, Frank has problems.

Somehow, Gleeson joins Frank’s band Soronprfbs.

And the rest is a whipsaw of insanity.

No, Frank is not a relaxing watch, but it is hilarious!

And very meaningful!!

Soronprfbs, as a band, is a shambles.

[not to be confused with Babyshambles]

There were several times when I caught glimpses of the weirdness that is another of my most favorite bands:  The Homosexuals.

But, this film can hardly be reviewed properly without talking about The Residents.

Soronprfbs are mythic (if only in their own minds).

Their fame, however, grows.

And with fame, stage fright.

It happens to even the most grounded individuals (like Robbie Robertson).

But nothing fits the bill quite like Mercury Rev.

Soronprfbs are apt to have fights on stage.

Perhaps one member tries to gouge another’s eye out on a transatlantic flight.

That kind of stuff.

Sure, Oasis have had mid-air spats about blueberry scones.

And maybe The Sex Pistols only played to twelve people (or whatever) at their first show.

But Soronprfbs, for me, is that band which would hang electric guitars from the ceiling and let them feed back for the entirety of a show.

Which is to say, Mercury Rev.

But let me pull in the younger folks.

Think, for example, The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Fights onstage.

Obvious mental problems.

Or is it just a put-on?

And let’s go back…

The Doors.

Jim Morrison being totally whacked out of his gourd onstage.

But no, Soronprfbs is weirder…and far more obscure.

Think, for instance, Alan Vega leading Suicide in a performance at CBGB’s.

The writers of our film (Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan) will probably know everything I’m talking about [were they to ever read this].

Because they (or at least one of them…Ronson?) know the mechanism which attracts so many of us to BANDS.

[“those funny little plans/that never work quite right”]

That mechanism is mystery.

But in this case, it is the mystery of reclusive eccentricity.

Put simply, madness.

[not to be confused with the band Madness]

So Ronson and Straughan even include the perfect musical instrument to act as a talisman for their tale:  the theremin.

And they even get the character’s name right:  Clara.

[after theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore]

The theremin has a long history in eccentric rock and roll.

Indeed, late in Frank when we see our dejected main character sleeping in his bathrobe at the French Quarter Inn (a fleabag motel), his sartorial sense evokes Brian Wilson’s rough years.

Yes, the theremin goes back to at least “Good Vibrations” and the zaniness which was The Beach Boys’ album Smile.

But the theremin has come to embody the obtuse and pretentious in rock and roll.

And so it is no wonder that bands such as Jon Spencer Blues Explosion picked up on this wooziest of all instruments.

Which brings us finally to a salient point.

Frank includes at least one star:

Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Gyllenhaal plays stone-cold bitch Clara:  Frank’s girlfriend.

[remember, Frank is the guy with the papier-mâché head…and he never takes it off…ever]

Gyllenhaal’s character is unlikable in just about every way imaginable.

And it makes me appreciate her acting.

Indeed, God bless Ms. Gyllenhaal for taking this film role.

It’s a lot like Charlotte Gainsbourg’s role in Misunderstood (2014) and makes me appreciate the dramatic tension of Gainsbourg’s role more than I initially did.

Which is to say, Gyllenhaal is very much the villain of Frank.

A bit like a dominatrix version of June Chadwick in This Is Spinal Tap.

Which is to further say, Gyllenhaal is playing off her typecast from Secretary of being one bad bitch.

And she pulls it off.

But Gyllenhaal is the least important element of Frank.

It would ruin things to tell you just how Michael Fassbender figures into this film, but let’s just say he’s indispensable.

[Fassbender, by the way, is half-Irish (his mother being born in County Antrim)]

A lot of our action happens in what could pass for Tarbox Road Studios.

Indeed, there is a lot of Wayne Coyne in the character of Frank as well.

But the sounds are closer to those which Mercury Rev conjured at SUNY-Buffalo for their debut album.

Likewise, the seclusion which goes into making the great Soronprfbs album reminds me of the ramshackle (yet bucolic) process which led to my favorite album of all time:  Mercury Rev’s Deserter’s Songs.

As alluded to earlier, Soronprfbs eventually make their way to my old stomping grounds:  the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.

I was a bit wistful seeing the Ritz Theater (now an Alamo Drafthouse) on 6th Street in one shot.

Indeed, I remember playing an “unplugged”, solo gig there back when it was still a cavernous, multilevel, piece-of-shit music venue (pool hall).

Funny enough, a lot of the tension in Frank revolves around that old chestnut of a band “selling out”.

Perhaps the funniest scene in the movie is when Frank presents his “most likable music ever” in the motel room.

Which is to say, this movie may not appeal to everyone.

But if you’re a rock musician (especially a weirdo like me), you’ve gotta see this.

There are a couple of scenes which make the whole thing worthwhile.

It’s funny that Soronprfbs bassist François Civil bears a striking resemblance to Dave Fridmann circa-1991.

[just another detail which cemented the genius of this film for me]

But there are other seeming references in this film.

A bit of Stereolab (with all the Moogy wonder).

The stilted “artfulness” of Blonde Redhead.

And even the bollocks, pulseless blech of Low.

Yes, Soronprfbs and their “side projects” seem to catch just about every hue in the indie rock kaleidoscope.

Director Abrahamson (and writers Ronson and Straughan) do a nice job of converting Domhnall Gleeson’s internal monologue into a social media thread which runs through this movie.

Gleeson is on Twitter, YouTube, a blog, etc.

But the funniest is the beginning…and it is the hook which reeled me in.

To hear Gleeson’s musical mind attempt to craft quirky pop songs out of mundane details of his Irish town is a real knee-slapper.

Because, as they say, IT’S SO TRUE!

So if you’ve ever written songs, witness in the first five minutes of this film the real torture it is to make lemonade out of a lemon life.

Be forewarned (or enticed):  Frank is WAY OUT THERE!

Some elements of this film are so non sequitur that they were a bit hard for my weakened, nicotine-craving immune system to handle.

In the end, this is a sad story.

But with joy, pain.

There is great joy in Frank.

Sometimes we realize we’re not in Kansas anymore…

and it’s a rough patch.

The Technicolor of life can be too much to handle.

But take courage, dear friends…

Like Gong’s great song “Rational Anthem”…from that hard-to-find Magick Brother…their debut.

[Get on that, Spotify]

Miracles can happen.

And, to quote Albert Ayler, “music is the healing force of the universe”.

-PD

The Cat in the Hat [1971)

TV special…

“We interrupt your regularly-scheduled program to bring you a flight of fancy free.”

Dr. Seuss.  SS.  Theodor Seuss Geisel.

If the PhD proves too difficult–too stultifying, then just drop out.  Right?

David H. DePatie.  Friz [sic] Freleng.

Allan Sherman is great as the voice of the title character.  The eponymous feline.

But most interesting is the fish:  Karlos K. Krinklebein.

(!)

You can’t make this shit up.

Krinkelbein?

Perhaps it’s Carlos…

In any case, it’s Daws Butler voicing the goldfish.

Directed by Hawley Pratt (who graduated from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn).

Again with the not making of the shit up.

But most important are the readymade, pre-reified Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Woe unto Thurl Ravenscroft for voicing merely one Thing (Thing 1, mind you!).

He was Tony the Tiger.

(!)

“They’re grrreat!”

The dumbest, most genius tagline ever.

Thou canst not maketh up such as this…on the 400th year of our laird.

The Grinch stole Christmas in 1966.  Right there on CBS.

Thurl crooned “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and became doubly immortal.

Never underestimate Tony the Tiger.

Or the Tourette’s Guy.

Danny.

Anthony L. Six.

A weird last name.

Brilliant!

And Jared.

YouTube diamond.

Back to the cat…our composer Dean Elliott.

Eleven years after composing the score for Sex Kittens Go to College, he was in the animation business (more or less).

To go from Mijanou Bardot (Brigitte’s sister) to the moss-covered three-handled family credenza.

Credenza…altar for food of the elite.  Most elite.  Papal.

With faith (belief), the food taster.  Not discriminating flavor.  Checking poison.

Mamie Van Doren and Tuesday Weld.  Back to the (sex) kittens.

It’s the real deal.  Chuck Jones.  Producer.

Indeed, Siberia.

Indeed.

Sympathy.  And Yerself is Steam.

It’s mania.  It’s depression.

Are you experienced?  (¿With backmasking)

That’s the sombrero psychedelia.

chapka in a shlyapa.

Cat matryoshka.

EmrNyisIdtdGelrMeyA

 

-PD

 

El espíritu de la colmena [1973)

I have wanted to bring my readers this film for some time.

Therefore, it is an honor to review The Spirit of the Beehive for you.

I first saw this film by chance one night on TCM long ago.

I don’t remember the exact chain of events, but it was either right before seeing this or right after seeing this that I found out I was going to Spain (the country of provenance of this film).

The opportunity to visit Spain was a miracle (as have been all my travels).  Never did I think I would see La Sagrada Família.  Never did I dream of seeing the Guggenheim in Bilbao.  These things were too much to dream.  But they happened.

And this film is the quintessence of that miracle experience.

Two little girls.  Ana and Isabel.

The sonic motif throughout this film is the name “Isabel” whispered by her younger sister Ana.

It is an entreaty.  A putting faith in someone.

Please tell me why this, and why that.

Few films have matched the magic of this one.  If you are a fan of Cinema Paradiso, this film will show you where that template originated.

Before the great Giuseppe Tornatore, there was the equally great Víctor Erice (auteur of the film under consideration).

There is a magic here which is akin to Amélie and also Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.  It is a naïveté befitting of Erik Satie…a wonderment which is rarely expressed effectively in film.

For more modern viewers, the best parallel might perhaps be Beasts of the Southern Wild (on the soundtrack of which I had the honor to perform with my old band).

And so there you have it.

Bees, bees everywhere.  Like Mercury Rev…”Chasing a Bee Inside a Jar”…and “Syringe Mouth” (‘here you come dripping from the hive’).

The hum.  The drone.  Like a subway screeching through the turns in a New York subway tunnel.  And the honeycomb.  Like DNA.

I should add.  A certain sadness.  Like a tawny port.

It was only fitting that this film was kicked to the curb for me, the poor-man’s Henri Langlois, to find at this particular time.

And so I too whisper the name Isabel.  Isabel with your hair pulled back behind your ears.  Don’t be cruel.

 

-PD