# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Pajo - Pajo

  by Dominic B. Simpson

published: 2 / 6 / 2005

Pajo - Pajo
Label: Domino Records
Format: CD


First album under his own moniker for former Slint, Papa M and Tortoise guitartst David Pajo, which finds him putting aside some of the abtractness of his past work, but also in the process laying "claim to be a great songwriter"

David Pajo has one hell of a CV. Formerly a member of Slint (who recently re-united), Rodan, Tortoise, Papa M, Zwan, Ariel M, The For Carnation and others, as well as collaborator with Stereolab, Will Oldham (Bonny ‘Prince’ Billy), Palace Brothers, Royal Trux, King Kong, Matmos and Bill "Smog” Callahan, the prolific guitarist has elected this time to go simply under his own name. Does the man ever sleep? As with the stripped down moniker, so too the music here: with the exception of the last track here, most of the album is just Pajo on guitar, plus some glitches and pulses from his laptop, mostly recorded with the minimum of overdubs. You realise pretty soon that while Pajo utilises his laptop to fill in the effects, at the same time there’s little desire to experiment with any sonic experimentation that might come from his computer; instead he uses it in a more subtle, restrained fashion, primarily to coax some pulses and glitches that take second stage to his intricate, folk-influenced guitar playing. He’s recorded solo before, of course, as Papa M, and with albums such as 'Whatever, Mortal', which laid the groundwork for much of the back-to-basics feel of his recent work and this album. He originated in Louisville, Kentucky, and first found fame with Slint in the mid 80’s, before becoming a ceaseless collaborator in much of the Chicago post-rock scene of the 90’s, as well as elsewhere (he now lives in New York). If Pajo has spent the last twenty years or so exploring post-rock territory with the aforementioned acts, those looking for him to repeat the act on this record may be slightly disappointed. It’s no surprise that he’s elected to give the album an eponymous title, as it very much feels like a personal, back-to-basics record, in which exploration has given way to heartfelt melody and reflection. Not that you’d guess it from the album’s beginning: the sound of oscillating high hats signals the beginning of 'Oh No No' before Pajo’s voice comes in muffled with some surprisingly vehement lyrics about leaving a partner: “lesson from a lonely bitch / left her in sorry stitch”, before commanding “take off that stripy thing”. It’s the one jarring moment on a reflective, relaxed album for the most part: on 'High Lonesome Moan'Pajo’s intones in a beautiful baritone “How far you are from me”, evoking images of small-town America where “the sky is open / the power lines are down”. The shimmering reverb at the end of the song only highlights the Americana feeling at the heart of the song, while elsewhere on the album his guitar playing remains sparkling and economical, ditching the electric guitar and effects for the simplicity of an acoustic, as electronic percussion twirls around his playing and echoing voice, sung directly into the computer. ‘Manson Twins’ is a gorgeous, simple Simon & Garfunkel-like ballad with images of a “girl with flaxen hair”, perfectly designed to soundtrack a 60’s hippie film, though the song’s refrain of “loveless love” evokes a dark side (as does the song title, which may well perversely reference that decade’s nightmarish flip side with the Charles Manson killings). The album’s real highlight, though, is 'Baby Please Come Home', a warm, simple uptempo paean to a lover with some of the most honest lyrics Pajo’s written and the closest thing he’s done that’s likely to be a top 40 hit: “Girl, you left when I needed you most / Girl I nearly gave up the ghost…Oh baby please come home / I’ll take you back in arms”. Meanwhile, his predilection in Papa M for revoking American folk songs and Appalachian mountain songs is revisited on 'Mary of the Wild Moor', revolving around Pajo’s voice – treated so that it sounds like a field recording from the 40’s - and evocative guitar work, embellished by some beautiful echoing arpeggios and minimal percussion. What’s noticeable on this album is not just how much it embraces song structures far more than his often challenging and abstract output of the mid 90’s, but also something else: Pajo sounds pretty happy for most of this album, in contrast to the often bleak mood of his Papa M period. He’s never sounded as upbeat as now. That is, until we reach the album’s closer, “Francie”, which completely eschews any acoustic guitars and instead revisits the more experimental tendencies of Pajo’s past. Over some phased circular guitar riff and some percussive sounds that oddly resemble leaves rustling in the wind, Pajo recounts in a monotone voice a long monologue that perversely brings to mind that of Slint’s 'Good Morning Captain.' It makes for a strange listen, with an almost chid-like story at it’s heart: “Francie folded her winter clothes / And put them in a cedar box…she pulled aside the curtains / To let the candlelight cast shadows / On the snow outside”. It makes for an eerie ending, but one that acknowledges his left field, idiosyncratic past too. While much of his previous work may be more in the exploratory and abstract vein, with ‘Pajo’ he can also lay claim to being a great songwriter too.

Track Listing:-
1 Oh No No
2 High Lonesome Moan
3 Ten More Days
4 Manson Twins
5 War Is Dead
6 Baby Please Come Home
7 Icicles
8 Mary Of The Wildmoor
9 Let Me Bleed
10 Francie

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