Words by Keith Hadad
Being a firm believer that everything Tim Presley (of White Fence) and Cate Le Bon separately touch turns to gold, when I found out that they were collaborating on an album together, I knew that the results would be both exceptional and delightfully strange.
Sitting somewhere on the same shelf as New Zealand’s Tall Dwarfs, the avant-psych punk rock of 39 Clocks and the more minimal side of Laurie Anderson, Presley and Le Bon together have brewed a batch of songs that can easily be some of the most unique of 2015. Hermits on Holiday has moments of mesmerizing repetition and shudders with disjointed lyrics, bizarre rhythms and beautifully eccentric instrumentation. For instance, on “Tim, Do I Like That Dog,” the drums and bass tackle an outlandish Sun Ra-meets-Captain Beefheart-like polyrhythmic interplay while a fuzzed guitar slices acid-drenched countermelodies. Meanwhile, somewhere in the mix, Le Bon is of course, constantly asking Tim if she likes that dog. The whole track sounds like if Weasels Ripped My Flesh-era Frank Zappa jammed with Amon Düül II. Where else can such a feat be heard today?
The production quality matches the unconventional content of the disc, making it truly sound like some lost bedroom-recorded outsider album. At times the atmosphere buzzes with low fidelity warmth and at others, the sound sways and dips between flanged distortion and gorgeous clarity while the speed constantly alters without warning. Many of the instruments on the record sound to be vintage keyboards, drum machines and other such electronics that date back to at least the late ‘70s or ‘80s. For example, the nasally synth on “Cherrio” sounds like it would have been found on a rack of a Toys “R” Us back in 1989. This completely cements the feeling that this record is closer to outsider music than anything else.
While geniuses in their own right, Presley and Le Bon proved that together, they can create daring music that can be complex yet simplistic, otherworldly yet familiar and most importantly of all: experimental yet fun.
‘Hermits on Holiday’
© August 21st, 2015
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