-
neumu
Tuesday, September 16, 2014 
-
-
--archival-captured-cinematronic-continuity error-daily report-datastream-depth of field--
-
--drama-44.1 khz-gramophone-inquisitive-needle drops-picture book-twinklepop--
-
Neumu = Art + Music + Words
Search Neumu:  

illustration



edited by michael goldbergcontact


Babbling On About Deerhoof

In the same instant Deerhoof co-founder and drummer Greg Saunier laughed and said, "I'm really babbling now," what he had previously "babbled" became crystal clear.

Sure, he had slightly rambled on about Bach, Wendy Carlos, Tom Cruise and Stanley Kubrick, and breezed over the San Francisco experimental foursome's third longplayer Apple O', released in March on Kill Rock Stars. But, stringing it all together in summation, it all made perfect sense: Deerhoof's music-making approach knows no restrictions. Deerhoof's music chooses its own path.

The band's sporadically childlike, unpredictably colorful sound shapes and reshapes itself according to the setting, whether it's a mood, time or place. "What you actually hear on the surface is coming from the people rather than the song because there's so much in the songs that's left up to the people," Saunier explained during a recent phone interview.

"The songs don't tell you, 'Now you're supposed to feel sad when you do this part or go crazy in this part,'" he continued. "Any part of any song could be the go crazy part ... whatever that means."

Setting The Songs Free

Deerhoof let the mood of a particular performance space influence how their songs are performed. "The songs we write tend to be very simple," Saunier said. "There was a time in European music history where people would compose their music. Say, Bach — he'd write out his pieces and you look at the score and it's just notes and rhythms and there's nothing else. If you look at it, it all looks sort of the same and it all looks kind of plain.

"'And the further forward you go in history, there's more and more of a tendency to have more and more markings in the score," he continued. "So, you'll end up looking at a score of somebody writing music in the '50s, the thing is absolutely filled with an incredibly detailed profusion of instructions. Every note has its own volume that it's supposed to be played at — this note is supposed to be played quiet but getting this much louder towards the end of the note. And you're supposed to play it with no vibrato, with a mute stuck into your instrument and then you take the mute out after this note is over. It's really, really controlled. The point being, when somebody plays that, there's so little chance that it's going to sound different from person to person. There's so little chance that whatever group that is playing this music is going to be able to put its group stamp on this piece, because it's controlled. Almost any performance is going to sound identical."

Lacking this sort of confinement, Deerhoof intend, like 18th century composers, to leave their tunes as open to interpretation as any abstract piece of art. "A lot of times [Bach] would write pieces where he didn't say what instrument it's for," Saunier said. "So then you get somebody playing the piece on the piano, harpsichord or organ, or they arrange it for a string quartet. It can sound so different. There's no tempo marking, you don't know how fast you're supposed to play, you can play it any tempo. And you don't know if you're supposed to play it smooth or choppy. You're just seeing this row of notes, and you don't know where one phrase ends and the next one begins. It's up to the performer to decide what the phrasing is."

By listening to Deerhoof's latest album repeatedly, you can experience the freedom within their sweet yet damaged sound — with each listen you are discovering a mood or part that previously went unnoticed. Apple O' comes across as more of an art project than just an album. Songs build from quiet and minimal, playful and tickling to bang-'em-out explosive, with the complexities of an onslaught of instrumentation.

"Apple Bomb" teases its listener with heavenly, sweet-as-rhubarb-pie cooing and fragile snail's-paced playing before bursting into a temporary loss of sanity with high-pitched squeals and evil, punishing drums. While most of the 13 tracks on the album contain just a few lines of poetic, playful lyrics, "Apple Bomb" features the most ample quantity — and cutely impassioned lines at that: "Marry me lucky tree/ You're my tree/ And you're my three/ When you burn/ Now I'm free/ To find me number four/ And number four can marry me." Opener "Dummy Discards a Heart" features a loveable, squalling Sonic Youth-ish guitar line and tapping, fluttering beats. The very non-Go Go's-like "Sealed With a Kiss" may be the album's most simplistic for its drum-machine beat, trumpet burps and horn cries. It is perhaps also the most touching for its words: "Stop the man at the top/ Stop the flag at the top/ Stop the drop on the map/ Stop the drop of the mop." Playing like kindergarten, nah-nah-nah's and exposed, pointy tongues, "Flower" feels as innocent and fearless as a child.

Deerhoof are not a band experimenting purely for the sake of being different. Apple O' reveals a group that spits parts around not only to explore immense areas of musical opportunity (piecing highly original and intricate soundscapes together all the while), but also to offer their audience a colorful canvas they could gaze upon time and time again, pulling out a different picture each time.

Saunier co-founded the band with Seattle electronica experimentalist Rob Fisk (also formerly of Pell Mell) in '94 and has since seen a somewhat heavy rotation of members. Deerhoof's current lineup is Saunier, vocalist/bassist Satomi Matsuzaki, guitarist Chris Cohen and guitarist John Dieterich.

The band recorded Apple O' (its artwork drawn by Fisk) live, all in one day with Dilute's Jay Pellicci (who's currently working with Erase Errata on their second album). Pellicci first worked with Deerhoof when he recorded five tracks that appeared on their last full-length, 2002's Reveille. The band put out their first album, The Man, The King, The Girl in '97, following it with 1999's Holdypaws

"It was this real swanky studio where Jay works, and he had amassed some free hours there, and that's how we were able to get in there to record for free," Saunier said.

Being short on cash, the band chose to lay down Apple O's 13 engaging, curious tracks in one day, often without their producer/engineer altogether there. "He had been spending the previous week up until three in the morning recording this band from Portland (Ore.) called 31 Knots,'" Saunier said. "We would be in there recording and you could look into the control booth and he'd be completely nodded out."

The recording session went smoothly, with only an obstacle or two. "Chris only threatened to quit the band about once in the evening after somebody else in the band, who has a tendency to nit-pick, was giving him a hard time over playing his part just right." Course, the snickering, self-proclaimed nitpicker Saunier was referring to himself.

Still, how can Saunier — whose eye for detail cannot be escaped — not pick things apart? "The more times you play, the more you're noticing the finer points," he said. "I really get a kick out of the details of things. Sometimes those little things can really change how something sounds."

Doing It Their Rule-free Way

Deerhoof retain openness in their songs, many times by not writing their own parts, sidestepping the imprint of an individual bandmember's specific playing technique. "Suppose Satomi has an idea for what the drum part should be," Saunier explained. "So she'll sing me this drum beat, but it's not like her style of playing the drums is ingrained in the song; it's more just an idea. She has an idea, so there's a lot of different ways you can do the idea, because you have these notes or rhythms, but you haven't determined something about the style."

So Deerhoof's songs — without particular playing styles ingrained — are allowed a certain fluidity to change, mature, grow and breathe lives of their own separate from whomever plays them. "This might sound weird and I might be going out on a limb here but if you make up your own part jamming then it's very natural to keep playing the way you naturally played," Saunier said. "But if you're having a part handed to you, that isn't a part you would've written, and also isn't a part that you did write, by somebody who plays the guitar a different way, then it's not like, 'Well, now I'm just gonna put my stamp on this guitar part.'

"It's not exactly clear right away what your stamp would be in relation to this foreign material," he continued. "You have to figure out a way to make it yours, and a lot of times it may take playing it again and again and again before somebody feels like they are playing something that feels like them, that doesn't just feel like reading a script blankly."

Still, the uniqueness of the individual is not lost, because eventually they can make the idea that is handed to them their own. "There's a certain thing that comes out of a person that's unique," Saunier said. "So, if John or Chris is playing these notes and rhythms that I wrote, as if these notes and rhythms are sitting there on music paper, there's an infinite number of ways that those notes and rhythms can come out.

"We're singer/songwriters. That's what I'm trying to tell you — it's a singer/songwriter-type band," Saunier said, sounding quite proud of his simple but fitting conclusion. — Jenny Tatone [Thursday, June 12, 2003]


Alejandro Escovedo's Joyous Rebirth

John Vanderslice Kicks Genre

Paul Duncan's Elusive Pop

Stephen Yerkey's Wandering Songs

French Kicks Complete 'Two Thousand'

Spazzy Romanticism: Love Story In Blood Red

Brain Surgeons NYC Rock The Big Questions

Jarboe's 'Men' Charts Turbulent Emotions

Delta 5's Edgy Post-Punk Resurrected

Blitzen Trapper Spiff Things Up

Minus Five: Booze, Betrayal, Bibles and Guns

New Compilation Spotlights Forgotten Folk Guitar Heroes

Chris Brokaw's Experiment In Pop

Old And New With Death Vessel

Silver Jews: Salvation And Redemption

Jana Hunter's Beautiful Doom

Vashti Bunyan Finds Her Voice Again

Nick Castro's Turkish Folk Delight

Katrina Hits New Orleans Musicians Hard

Paula Frazer's Eerie Beauty

The National Find Emotional Balance

Death Cab For Cutie's New Album, Tour

Heavy Trash's Rockabilly Rampage

Help The Wrens Get Their Albums Released!

Devendra Banhart, Andy Cabic Launch Label

Lydia Lunch's Noir Seductions

Bosque Brown's The Real Deal

PDX Pop Now! Fest Announces Lineup

Sarah Dougher Starts Women-Focused Label

Jennifer Gentle's Joyful Psyche

Mountain Goat Darnielle Gets Autobiographical With 'Sunset Tree'

Mia Doi Todd's Beautiful Collaboration

Return of the Gang of Four

Martha Wainwright Finds Her Voice

Brian Jonestown Massacre's Acid Joyride

Solo Disc Due From Pixies' Frank Black

Heartless Bastards' Big-Hearted Rock

Mike Watt's Midlife Journey

The Black Swans Balance Old And New

Nicolai Dunger's Swedish Blues

The Insomniacs' Hard-Edged Pop

Yo La Tengo Collection Due

Juana Molina's 'Homemade' Sound

Beans Evolves

Earlimart's Songs Of Loss

Devendra Banhart's 'Mosquito Drawings'

Negativland Rerelease 'Helter Stupid'

Alina Simone Transforms The Ordinary

Sounds From Nature: Laura Veirs

Octet's Fractured Electric Pop

Sleater-Kinney Working With Lips Producer

The Cult Of Silkworm

The Evolution Of The Concretes

Devendra Banhart's Exuberant New Songs

Catching Up With The Incredible String Band

Gram Rabbit's Desert Visions

Three Indie-Rock Stars Unite As Maritime

Remembering Johnny Ramone

Jarboe's Many Voices

Phil Elvrum's Long Hard Winter

First U.S. Release For Vashti Bunyan Album

Incredible String Band To Tour U.S.

New Music From Lydia Lunch

Le Tigre Protest The Bush War Presidency

Joel RL Phelps: Bleak Songs Rock Hard

Time Tripping With Galaxie 500

Patti Smith Wants Bush Out!

Sharron Kraus: A New Kind Of Folk Music

The Fiery Furnaces' Psychedelic Theater

Harder, Heavier Burning Brides

Sonic Youth's Ongoing Experiment

The Dt's Do It Their Way

Poster Children Cover Political Rock

Rare Thelonious Monk Recordings Due

Uneasy Pop From dios

Beck, Lips, Waits Cover Daniel Johnston

Understanding Franz Ferdinand

The Truly Amazing Joanna Newsom

Mylab's Boundary-Crossing Experiments In Sound

Have You Heard Jolie Holland Whistle?

The 'Magical Realism' Of Vetiver

The Restless, Rootsy Songs Of Eszter Balint

The Sun Sets On The Blasters

Devendra Banhart To Tour U.S.

The East/West Fusion Sounds Of Macha

Destroyer Gets Mellow For Your Blues

TV On The Radio Get Political

Sonic Youth, Modest Mouse To Play Lollapalooza 2004

New Music From The Fall

Apocalyptic Sound From The Intelligence

Fast And Rude With The Casual Dots

'Rejoicing' With Devendra Banhart

New Album, Tour From The Polyphonic Spree

Shearwater Take Wing

Sleater-Kinney To Tour East/West Coasts

Resurrecting Rocket From The Tombs

Visqueen Want To Get A Riot Goin' On

Lloyd Cole Makes A Commotion

Funkstörung's 'Cut-Up' Theory

Waiting For Mirah's C'mon Miracle

Electrelane Find Their Voice

The Television Is Still On!

Experimental Sounds From Hannah Marcus

The Ponys Play With Rayguns

Ex-Mono Men Leader Returns With The Dt's

Mountain Goats' Darnielle Adopts A More Hi-Fi Sound

Sun Kil Moon To Tour U.S., Europe

Nothin' But The Truth From The Von Bondies

Sultans Survive 'Shipwreck'

Sebadoh Reunite For Spring Tour

Xiu Xiu's 'Reality' Rock

Meet The Patients

Beth Orton, M. Ward Make Sadness Taste Sweet

Oneida's Pathway To Ecstasy

Radiohead, Pixies, Dizzee Rascal To Play Coachella

Young People Tour Behind War Prayers

Pixies Tour Dates Announced

Ani DiFranco Tells It Like It Is

Deerhoof Back For 2004 With Milkman

McLusky Set To 'Bring On The Big Guitars' Again

Pixies Reunite For U.S., European Tours

American Music Club, Decemberists To Play NoisePop 2004

Damien Rice Set To Tour U.S.

The Frames Accept Your Love

Punk Rock's A-Frames To Re-Record Third Album

Finally! Mission Of Burma Record New Album

A Solo Detour For Ladybug Transistor's Sasha Bell

Return Of The Old 97's

Spending The Night With Damien Rice

Tindersticks Reissues Due This Spring

The Evolution Of 'A Silver Mt. Zion'

Neil Young Rocks Australia With 'Greendale'

Poster Children Back In Action

'The Great Cat Power Disaster Of 2003'

Chicks On Speed's Subversive Strategies

Oranger At A Crossroad

Peaches On Tour And In Control

Jawbreaker's Complete Dear You Sessions To Be Released

Belle & Sebastian + Trevor Horn = Sunny Pop Nirvana

Von Bondies' Pawn Shoppe Heart

Descendents Are Back!

Modest Mouse Touring; Album Due in 2004

London Suede Take A (Permanent?) Break

Saul Williams Wants You To Think For Yourself

The 'Zen' Sound Of Calexico

Elliott Smith Dead AT 34

Debut Due From Mark Kozelek's Sun Kil Moon

The Hunches: Music That'll 'Fucking Live Forever'

Vic Chesnutt Speaks His Mind

90 Day Men Cancel Tour

Keith Jarrett, Cecil Taylor Highlight SF Jazz Festival

For My Morning Jacket, It's The Music That Matters

EP Due From The Polyphonic Spree

Bright Eyes, Neva Dinova Collaborate On EP

The Rise & Fall & Rise Of Ben Lee

Catching Up With Cheerfully Defiant Tricky

Hanging Around With The Polyphonic Spree

Sophomore Album Due From The Shins

Noise Rock From Iceland's Singapore Sling

Death Cab To Tour U.S.

Rufus Wainwright's Want One Is 'Family Affair'

Death Cab's Transatlanticism On The Way

Heartfelt Rock From Sweden's Last Days Of April

The Minus 5 Get Down With Wilco

Tywanna Jo Baskette's Southern-Gothic Rock

Xiu Xiu's Stewart Takes On 'Gay-bashing'

Portishead Producer Resurfaces Behind New Diva

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Wire, Primal Scream On Buddyhead Comp

Yeah Yeah Yeahs To Tour West Coast

Sonic Youth, Erase Errata Kick Off 'Buddy Series'

The Locust Are One Scary Band

Damien Rice In The 'Here And Now'

Remembering Karp's Scott Jernigan

ATP-NY Postponed 'Til At Least 2004

The Soul Of Chris Lee

Gits' Frenching The Bully To See Re-Release

Stephen Malkmus Is In Control

Superchunk To Release Rarities Set; Teenage Girls To Swoon As A Result

Summer Touring For The Gossip

Babbling On About Deerhoof

Irish Song Poet Damien Rice's O Released In U.S.

Chatting With ATP's Barry Hogan

Former Digable Planets Frontman Surfaces With Cherrywine

ATP L.A. Festival Rescheduled For Fall

Freakwater's Janet Bean Takes A Solo Turn

Lee's 'Cool Rock'

Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs Highlight YES NEW YORK

Mark Romanek's 'Hurt' Revives Johnny Cash's Career

The Rapture's Post-Punk, Post-Dance Sound

R.E.M., Wilco, Modest Mouse Highlight Bumbershoot Fest

Set Fires To Flames' Sleep-Deprivation Sound

Southern Gothic Past Shadows Verbena's La Musica Negra

The Subtle Evolution Of Yo La Tengo

Spring Tour For Jolie Holland (Plus A Live Album)

Liz Phair Still Pushing The Limits

Gold Chains Wants You To Dance And Think

Young People's War Prayers On The Way



peruse archival
 



-
-snippetcontactsnippetcontributorssnippetvisionsnippethelpsnippetcopyrightsnippetlegalsnippetterms of usesnippetThis site is Copyright © 2003 Insider One LLC
-