Music

Avey Tare & Kria Brekkan: Pullhair Rubeye

D.M. Edwards

A couple of kooks step forward with their debut release. They’re artists, they don’t look back. Pigeons beware!


Avey Tare & Kria Brekkan

Pullhair Rubeye

Label: Paw Tracks
US Release Date: 2007-04-24
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

When happily doing a radio show, it was possible to very occasionally enjoy the premeditated placing of a grubby finger on the turntable to drastically slow down some Lynyrd Skynyrd song or John Lennon’s "Give Peace a Chance" about 20 seconds in, before turning the drive off completely and then spinning the record backwards to create what it was possible to imagine was a haunting and profound statement about…er…nothing in particular. Not so much iron in the soul as ennui old irony. One morning, a brewer, avant-expressionist, and guitar and sine wave generator player by the name of Potpie turned up. Incidentally, his mischievous work can be obtained through BackPorch Revolution, a label worth investigating for several reasons. He was carrying one of those upside-down-stylus machines for playing vinyl backwards. We reversed some T.Rex, mistakenly put on Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties” instead of “I’ll Be Your Mirror", and tried a few other things before concluding that several Ramones songs do actually sound virtually identical backwards. Not for the first time, the engineer called to ask if we were having technical difficulties. Listener reaction was, to put it politely, mixed, and to be honest, after half an hour or so even we were a bit bored with the whole experiment, not to mention the phone calls. The obvious conclusion seemed to be that this was an idea whose time had come and, mercifully, gone.

Well, apparently not. Dave Portner, a.k.a. Avey Tare of Animal Collective, and Kria Brekkan, a.k.a. Kristin Anna Valtysdottir, formerly of múm, have decided that their debut, Pullhair Rubeye, sounds better backwards. Furthermore, they believe that three of the tracks sound better not merely reversed, but at double speed. It’s probably not going to help matters to consider that Avey and Kria are somewhat beautiful and very much in love.

The world is undoubtedly a better place for having Animal Collective and múm in it, but my initial reaction to Pullhair Rubeye was to consider scratching the words "TWEE BULLSHIT" onto this disc and, after carefully sharpening the edges, launching it at some rats with wings, a.k.a. pigeons, lurking in the yard. Three or four listens in, though, and very much against my will it started to become enjoyable as (im)pure sound. Somewhat like the perceptual flip needed to approach Marxist economic theory, which many Wall Street traders obviously perform, perhaps it’s a matter of relaxing and allowing sound to float free of lazy conceptual notions.

While “Sis Around the sandmill” is a spirited beginning, “Opis Helpus” has more propulsion and a finer balance of instrumentation and voice, but it goes on just a bit too long. If there is one, the double-speed “Faetus No-man” is probably the double-speed highlight, with the repetitious, twirling jig of “Palenta” a close second. However, the final track, “Was Ónaip”, was ultimately the most affecting, with an appealing brooding tone. There are glaring hints toward Arabic and Indian chant and drone, not least on “”Who Welsses in my Hoff”, and while it occurs that maybe some of the song titles make sense in reverse, it is unlikely to matter. Anyone seeking proof that it’s possible to have too much of a good thing will surely find it here, and by the Chipmunkesque “Sasong”, the pigeons were blissfully unaware of the increasingly imminent danger to their worthless existence. Bastards.

To be honest, I came very close to writing Pullhair Rubeye off as a completely embarrassing listen; the equivalent of newly-wed audio Polaroid’s. Uncouth references to gratuitous imagery leaking from the nuptials of Pamela Anderson were leaping to mind like gigantic fake, er, leaping things, and it’s not completely clear as to what happened. Something steadily yet definitely emerged after repeated listens, as in the old days, when time was taken to allow for that to happen; the days when it was entirely reasonable, indeed eminently understandable, for someone to remark that they were not into a particular record yet because they’d only played it once or twice. An old admiration for the playfulness of Robert Wyatt slyly surfaced. Cross-pollinated affection blew over from the agile reverse economy of Steven Wilkinson a.k.a. Bibio. All of those may endure longer, but for now, for Avey a.k.a. Dave and Kria a.k.a. Kristin, it seems that love is the answer. Long may you both float on. Allow me to sincerely offer the name Rupert a.k.a. Rupert the Bear as a good one for any forthcoming offspring.

That said, anyone with a computer who wishes to reverse the songs could use Audacity or find four of them, including a greatly improved “Sasong” , at the couple's MySpace site.

It would be neglectful to miss this absolute open-goal opportunity to mention Reverso Mondo, doyen of backwardsness and high priest of counter-clockwork shenanigans. Reverso’s entire radio career has been conducted in reverse, even down to his claiming to speak backwards rather than just reversing the tape. His farewell radio show was, logically, the first one to be broadcasted at Resonance FM in London, where they are working backwards towards his debut. !uoy gniees eB

5
Music

The Best Metal of 2017

Painting by Mariusz Lewandowski. Cover of Bell Witch's Mirror Reaper.

There's common ground between all 20 metal albums despite musical differences: the ability to provide a cathartic release for the creator and the consumer alike, right when we need it most.

With global anxiety at unprecedented high levels it is important to try and maintain some personal equilibrium. Thankfully, metal, like a spiritual belief, can prove grounding. To outsiders, metal has always been known for its escapism and fantastical elements; but as most fans will tell you, metal is equally attuned to the concerns of the world and the internal struggles we face and has never shied away from holding a mirror up to man's inhumanity.

Keep reading... Show less

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

Two recently translated works -- Lydie Salvayre's Cry, Mother Spain and Joan Sales' Uncertain Glory -- bring to life the profound complexity of an early struggle against fascism, the Spanish Civil War.

There are several ways to write about the Spanish Civil War, that sorry three-year prelude to World War II which saw a struggling leftist democracy challenged and ultimately defeated by a fascist military coup.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Beware the seemingly merry shades of green and red that spread so slowly and thickly across the holiday season, for something dark and uncertain, something that takes many forms, stirs beneath the joyful facade.

Let's be honest -- not everyone feels merry at this time of year. Psychologists say depression looms large around the holidays and one way to deal with it is cathartically. Thus, we submit that scary movies can be even more salutary at Christmas than at Halloween. So, Merry Christmas. Ho ho ho wa ha ha!

1. The Old Dark House (James Whale, 1932)

Between Frankenstein (1931) and The Invisible Man (1933), director James Whale made this over-the-top lark of a dark and stormy night with stranded travelers and a crazy family. In a wordless performance, Boris Karloff headlines as the deformed butler who inspired The Addams Family's Lurch. Charles Laughton, Raymond Massey, Gloria Stuart, Melvyn Douglas and Ernest Thesiger are among those so vividly present, and Whale has a ball directing them through a series of funny, stylish scenes. This new Cohen edition provides the extras from Kino's old disc, including commentaries by Stuart and Whale biographer James Curtis. The astounding 4K restoration of sound and image blows previous editions away. There's now zero hiss on the soundtrack, all the better to hear Massey starting things off with the first line of dialogue: "Hell!"

(Available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

2. The Lure (Agnieszka Smoczynska, 2015)

Two mermaid sisters (Marta Mazurek, Michalina Olszanska) can summon legs at will to mingle on shore with the band at a Polish disco, where their siren act is a hit. In this dark reinvention of Hans Christian Andersen's already dark The Little Mermaid, one love-struck sister is tempted to sacrifice her fishy nature for human mortality while her sister indulges moments of bloodlust. Abetted by writer Robert Bolesto and twin sister-musicians Barbara and Zuzanna Wronska, director Agnieszka Smoczynska offers a woman's POV on the fairy tale crossed with her glittery childhood memories of '80s Poland. The result: a bizarre, funy, intuitive genre mash-up with plenty of songs. This Criterion disc offers a making-of and two short films by Smoczynska, also on musical subjects.

(Available from Criterion Collection / Read PopMatters review here.)

3. Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)

In the category of movies that don't explain themselves in favor of leaving some of their mysteries intact, here's Olivier Assayas' follow-up to the luminous Clouds of Sils Maria. Kristen Stewart again plays a celebrity's lackey with a nominally glamorous, actually stupid job, and she's waiting for a sign from her dead twin brother. What about the ghostly presence of a stalker who sends provocative text messages to her phone? The story flows into passages of outright horror complete with ectoplasm, blood, and ooga-booga soundscapes, and finally settles for asking the questions of whether the "other world" is outside or inside us. Assayas has fashioned a slinky, sexy, perplexing ghost story wrapped around a young woman's desire for something more in her life. There's a Cannes press conference and a brief talk from Assayas on his influences and impulses.

(Available from Criterion Collection / Reader PopMatters review here.

4. The Ghoul (Gareth Tunley, 2016)

The hero (Tom Meeten) tells his therapist that in his dreams, some things are very detailed and others are vague. This movie tells you bluntly what it's up to: a Möbius strip narrative that loops back on itself , as attributed to the diabolical therapists for their cosmic purposes. Then we just wait for the hero to come full circle and commit the crime that, as a cop, he's supposedly investigating. But this doesn't tell us whether he's really an undercover cop pretending to be depressed, or really a depressive imagining he's a cop, so some existential mysteries will never be answered. It's that kind of movie, indebted to David Lynch and other purveyors of nightmarish unreality. Arrow's disc offers a making-of, a commentary from writer-director Gareth Tunley and Meeten along with a producer, and a short film from Tunley and Meeten.

(Available from Arrow Video)

​5. The Illustrated Man (Jack Smight, 1969)

When a young man goes skinny-dipping with a mysterious stranger (Rod Steiger) who's covered with tattoos, the pictures comes to life in a series of odd stories, all created by Ray Bradbury and featuring Steiger and Claire Bloom in multiple roles. Nobody was satisfied with this failure, and it remains condemned to not having reached its potential. So why does Warner Archive grace it with a Blu-ray? Because even its failure has workable elements, including Jerry Goldsmith's score and the cold neatness of the one scene people remember: "The Veldt", which combines primal child/parent hostilities (a common Bradbury theme) with early virtual reality. It answers the question of why the kids spend so much time in their room, and why they're hostile at being pulled away.

(Available from Warner Bros.)

6. The Hidden (Jack Sholder, 1987)


In one of my favorite action movies of the '80s, a post-Blue Velvet and pre-Twin Peaks Kyle MacLachlan plays an FBI agent who forms a buddy-cop bond with Michael Nouri while pursuing a perp -- a bodiless entity that plugs into the human id. In the midst of slam-bang action comes a pivotal moment when a startling question is asked: "How do you like being human?" The heart of the movie, rich in subtext, finds two men learning to embrace what's alien to them. In pop-culture evolution, this movie falls between Hal Clement's novel Needle and the TV series Alien Nation. On this Warner Archive Blu-ray, Sholder offers a commentary with colleague Tim Hunter.

(Available from Warner Bros.)

7. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (David Lynch, 1992)

Speaking of Twin Peaks, here we have a textbook example of a movie that pleased almost nobody upon its release but has now generated such interest, thanks in large part to this year's Twin Peaks revival, that it arrives on Criterion. A feature-film prequel to David Lynch and Mark Frost's original TV serial that answered none of its questions and tossed in a raft of new ones, the film functions as one of cinema's most downbeat, disruptive and harsh depictions of a middle-class American teenage girl's social context. Sheryl Lee delivers a virtuoso performance that deserved the Oscar there was no way she'd be nominated for, and she wasn't. The extras, including a 90-minute film of deleted and alternate takes assembled by Lynch, have been available on previous sets.

(Available from Criterion Collection)

8. The Green Slime (Kinji Fukasaku, 1968)

Incredibly, Warner Archive upgrades its on-demand DVD of a groovy, brightly colored creature feature with this Blu-ray. As a clever reviewer indicated in this PopMatters review, what director Kinji Fukasaku saw as a Vietnam allegory functions more obviously as a manifestation of sexual tension between alpha-jock spacemen competing for the attention of a foxy female scientist, and this subconsciously creates an explosion of big green tentacled critters who overrun the space station. While we don't believe in "so bad it's good," this falls squarely into the category of things so unfacetiously absurd, they come out cool. There's a sublimely idiotic theme song.

(Available from Warner Bros.)

If the idea is that earth, water, fire, air and space constitute the core elements of life, then these five songs might seem as their equivalents to surviving the complications that come from embracing the good and enduring the ugly of the Christmas season.

Memory will never serve us well when it comes to Christmas and all its surrounding complications. Perhaps worse than the financial and familial pressures, the weather and the mad rush to consume and meet expectations, to exceed what happened the year before, are the floods of lists and pithy observations about Christmas music. We know our favorite carols and guilty pleasures ("O Come All Ye Faithful", "Silent Night"), the Vince Guaraldi Trio's music for 1965's A Charlie Brown Christmas that was transcendent then and (for some, anyway) has lost none of its power through the years, and we embrace the rock songs (The Kink's "Father Christmas", Greg Lake's "I Believe In Father Christmas", and The Pretenders' "2000 Miles".) We dismiss the creepy sexual predator nature in any rendition of "Baby, It's Cold Outside", the inanity of Alvin and the Chipmunks, and pop confections like "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus".

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image