Saturday, 11 December 2010



I’ve lost count.  Is this the thirteenth Trumans Water studio album?  Longevity is both a skill and a curse.

Warped and wrapped around the angular there is nothing simple about this band.  Indeed even removing the record from the shrink-wrapped sleeve is awkward.  However once freed from slumber the packaging reveals a most excellent and satisfying twelve inches of prime blue vinyl.  There is no MP3 download code just pure analogue joy.

Typically in playing with the band’s sensibilities the sides are entitled “Zeta” and “Zunis”.  Convention is for wimps and the soft ones.

Housing fourteen tracks (seven on each side), the good ship Trumans Water still sails the high seas of lo-fi with persistent waves of drunken gestures driving more by determination and desire than resource.  In a polished era of digital organisms reducing the workload of man, there is something hugely reassuring and calming in hearing an object such as this.

The sound is clear and familiar.  It is early Pavement through and through.  At one point they were probably on an equal footing/standing but one act decided to refine, some might say mature, their sound whereas the other decided where they were was more than enough.

The artwork looks like some kind of Monty Python collage.  On the front two bears are fishing the stream of a small waterfall while below them a giant hand is grabbing a human body with a frog head attached as the whole scene is bedded by a line of serious cyclists.  In other words the cover looks just how the record sounds.  Its cut and paste, an efficient execution of scraps.  Why bother with typeface when you can just write the band name and song titles in felt tip using a steady hand.  Then as you go in search of information and a tracklisting on the back you find yourself faced with three polar bears staring you out.  Dear listener, you are not to blame.

A mutual appreciation of fuzz and distortion goes a long way as the Zunis side opens in lurching fashion akin to wading through treacle.  The sound is that of being trapped in a vortex.

There is clear contrast in the material of the two sides of the record.  The first feels somewhat more “coherent” with at least song structures harnessing roaming and overdriven gestures.  The vocals feel a cloudy stream of consciousness more designed to stalk the music than vice versa.  The tail (tale) is wagging the dog on this adventure.

Occasionally it accomplishes pop gestures such as the hook happy “Last Time” but aside from that frequent stops and time changes seldom offers a smooth ride or fluid exchange.  However by the end of the side the screaming over distorted has become all encompassing and tough to take in.  It’s scratchy to a fault.

As the second side motions in mechanical fashion with an almost prog work out in “” Hands 4 Eyes” the exploration is lax and meandering offering an almost mini rock opera feel.  Here is Zappa, here is Beefheart, here is the culmination of a huge history serving indie rock.  There will always be something exhilarating about a band building to a hook then once it is served they scream and shout in the style of a rollercoaster going over a cliff.  We Fish” I am looking at you.

If only more guitars were still played in this fashion today.

To surmise Trumans Water remains a wonderful, it’s a just a little too much of it is likely to see the listener drown as they eventually get out of their depth.

We’re gonna need a bigger boat.

Thesaurus moment: soak.

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