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Papa M/Unhome - Split 7

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Artist: Papa M/Unhome

Album: Split 7

Label: Awkward Silence

Review date: Mar. 31, 2002

Dave Pajo seems to have found the key to the gold mine. His history speaks plenty loud (Tortoise, Slint, Aerial M, Zwan!), but recently he seems to be compromising quality for quantity. His contribution to the All Tomorrow's Parties 1.1 compilation was a lovely, but unremarkable Cat Stevens cover. This new song, "Mama you've been on my mind," is a cover of a relatively obscure Bob Dylan song and again breaks little musical ground. It features only Pajo's voice and his own piano-playing accompaniment, and while the song is pretty and touching, the wavering uncertainty of Pajo's voice is not powerful enough to stand on its own, or in this case with minimal backup.

He's surely no one-rick-pony, and a he has the resume to prove it. It appears, however, that he has come down with a bad case of Cat Poweritis in which the ease of recording quick and obscure covers seems to have trumped what was once a surely agonizingly long and process of writing, arranging, and recording long and intricate instrumental numbers. His new Songs of Mac EP (out now on Western Vinyl) offers little evidence to the contrary. While the old, instrumental Pajo may have been comparably prolific, he was considerably more energetic as well. All that being said, while "Mama you've been on my mind" may be less intriguing than its b-side, it is considerably more enjoyable.

"Pine Tree," as written and performed by the relatively unknown Unhome, is also something of a disappointment. It begins with a slow three-step bass line accompanied by a sparsely drummed snare 'n bass. It builds and wanders like much of Tortoise's self-titled album and doesn't deviate from the formula until the oddly yelped vocals slowly fade in. Riding a fine line between intrigue and annoyance, the repeated chant of "Pine trees swingin' on the dashboard" adds an oddly compelling diversion from its instrumental back-up. The subtle shift of the guitar from pluck to strum is tasteful and plays out nicely when masked by vocals. Lead lines wander about, similar to the beloved Papa M of old, but in this case nostalgia quickly turns into little more than frustration.

By Sam Hunt

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