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Thee Silver Mountain Reveries - Pretty Little Lightning Paw

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Artist: Thee Silver Mountain Reveries

Album: Pretty Little Lightning Paw

Label: Constellation

Review date: Jun. 2, 2004

The result of passionate and inebriated studio jam sessions, this would be a fantastic record were it not for some questionable production decisions and vocalist/guitarist Efrim’s unfortunate voice which is to this album what too much salt is to good food.

Pretty Little Lightning Paw, a 30-minute four track EP begins with a rousing call to action as a woman exhorts the title, “More action! Less Tears!” to powerful guitar chords, crashing drum cymbals and stirring violin sweeps. While those are the last vocals to be heard, the song’s intensity and raw emotional power make it a stunning opener.

The remaining three songs have lyrics articulated in an uninhibited, almost drunken manner. Efrim’s voice is particularly objectionable when he hits the high notes on “pretty little lightning paw,” not unlike a cat serenading in the back yard in the remote hours. A four-person choir does help take the edge off, but Efrim’s voice merits comparison with the Shaggs, intentional or not.

The vocals on "There's a river in the valley of melting snow" are much more tolerable. Comprised solely of vocals and guitar, Efrim narrates a descriptive agrarian setting which turns into personal lamentation soaked with echo. The decision to dilute the vocals through studio treatments results in a ghostly reverberation making for a more palatable song. One can almost picture a pallid spectre of a miner or hiker wandering the valley and singing his lonely song for eternity.

The instrumentations – bass, drums, organ/piano and Efrim’s inspired guitar – are masterful and evocatively arranged. The musical tone of the lyric-based songs are consistent to projects affiliated with godspeed you! black emperor – cinematic and suggestive of vast, desolate tundra-like spaces and ghost towns in a world on the edge of apocalypse. Production wise, the songs follow the same pattern, starting clean, then drowning in a processed-haze that becomes almost hallucinogenic.

By I Khider

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