Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Recommended music: 'Gunnera' by Pfarmers


A supergroup of sorts, Pfarmers features Bryan Devendorf (The National), Danny Seim (Menomena, Lackthereof) and Dave Nelson (David Byrne, Sufjan Stevens). The seeds of the band were sown when Danny and Bryan toured together over 10 years ago. Since then they'd become friends, and Danny had made some drumbeats with Dave that he played to Bryan one day. Everything clicked and Pfarmers began to bloom. The record is apparently about a dream Seim had which involved drowning and being reincarnated as a giant Gunnera plant.

The first couple of times I tried to listen to this I didn't really get past the first track; a droning, ambient track which (I assume) represents the journey into a dreamlike state. This was my bad though, as once you're in the dream there's a whole lot more going on in the record. It's upbeat, almost poppy in places, and definitely takes you on a trip. Throughout the record there are hints of The National's melodies and rhythms, particularly on 'You Shall Know The Spirit'. Something about 'Work For Me' reminds me of Super Furry Animals (maybe the voice) - whatever it is it's definitely one of my favourite tracks on the record.

'El Dorado' finds Seim painting himself gold and sinking to the bottom of the river serenely and without panicking. The pace picks up for 'The Ol' River Gang' which features skittery beats and is underpinned by a John Carpenter-esque keyboard riff. Another of the album's highlights it has power and poise, and I could imagine it working really well live. 'How To Build A Tube' is intriguing, it sounds like there are layers and layers in it to uncover (I'd love to get my hands on the stems to remix it) and then the record closes with a track to slowly draw you back out of the dream state, as 'Promised Land' sails you back down the river to consciousness.

Overall this is an enticing and unusual record - it may be just a seedling compared to their other projects but it's one that's worth nourishing.

'Gunnera' is out now on Jurassic Pop Records, and you can stream the whole thing below.

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