I have to give Mr. Gira props. He continues to expand an impressive catalog of weird and wonderful music from around the globe. When laying eyes upon any Young God title I immediately have an expectation of some degree of confrontation. Maybe it is the reputation of those old Swans albums or maybe its being shit scared of the image of Gira himself? I’m not sure, but one can always rest assured to be in for some kind of experience where he is concerned.
“Parplar” is one such experience. Music of such creation, that it somehow both excited and offended my senses at the same time. Says Michael Gira, "Larkin is a magic woman. She lives in the mountains in north Georgia. She collects bones, smooth stones, and she casts spells. She worships the moon. She is very beautiful, and her voice is like the passionate cry of a beast heard echoing across the mountains just after a tremendous thunderstorm, when the air is alive with electricity. I don't consider her folk though - she is pre folk, even pre- music. She is the sound of the eternal mother and the wrath of all women. She goes barefoot everywhere, and her feet are leathery and filthy. She wears jewels, glitter, and glistening insects in her hair. She's great!"
Opener, “They Were Wrong”, demonstrates the power of simplicity – with closely recorded vocals and minimal acoustic guitar sounding as if Grimm is within the room singing to you directly. What struck me about this piece is that the first time I heard it I could not relate it to any other musical memories or references. This feat alone is a difficult one to achieve, and it occurred many more times throughout Parplar. The album shifts gears on nearly every track – just as I thought I had it pegged, it up and took another fork in the road. The standout for me had to be “Blond and Golden Johns”; a particularly eerie, cringe-inducing song with such boldly sexually ambiguous and quotable lyrics that I have to list a few of them: “I got no hookers heart of gold / my hooks are sharp my heart is cold” “And I’ve been penetrated / so I’m welcome everywhere I go” “This mouth has wrapped around some things more delicious than the songs I sing”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, yet could not help but be impressed by the impressive yet simple use of word play.
At times the eccentric nature that I found so endearing threatened to spill over into annoyance and somewhat limited my really loving this one, but Grimm successfully walks the fine line between the two, never overstepping the mark. As I was expecting with this being a Young God release, it was again, co-produced by Michael Gira. While not being a bad choice – and his touch only appearing prominent on certain tracks like “Ride that Cyclone”, “Dominican Rum”, “The Dip” – it is both enriching yet also distracting. Taking a simplistic view, these tracks have the sense of being Angels of Light leftovers, when the focus should be kept on Larkin Grimm, but it is a grey area and Gira’s input does not really stand in the way. Luckily with her voice being such a force of nature, best described as “wild eyed and placid, witchy and innocent”, she definitely keeps the atmosphere entirely her own. 7/10 -- Zac Keiller (4 March, 2009)