The Philistines Jr.
Analog Vs. Digital
Somewhere in Connecticut, there is (was?) Tarquin Studios, a place that never quite gained the name-recognition of Electric Ladyland or The Power Station, but nonetheless has produced more than its fair share of forward-looking music. Captained by Peter and Tarquin Katis, the place seemed to be home base for acts like The Happiest Guys In The World, The Zambonis, James Kochalka Superstar, and many others, as brilliant but unheralded as the studio.
Like Tarquin Studios, The Philistines Jr. are led by the Katis brothers, and at the end of this album you get a aural glimpse of the many talented troops that have at one point or another become involved with the band and the place… but more on that later. Analog Vs. Digital is full of songs as idiomatic as their titles, like “The Annual Convention of Unemployed Spies (or the Man, Not the Men, in the White Suit)” and “If You’re Not Part of the Solution, You’re Part of the Precipitate (or Big Red Freakout Tonight).” Sure, they’re the same chords and words we’ve all become familiar with, but there’s something askew about the way they’re being used, and each seems to contain more than one particular meaning.
Some examples: “Analog Vs. Digital (or Peter vs. Tarquin)” seems to revive the age-old battle of hiss against bits, and methinks this has something to do with the studio, and a bit of sibling rivalry to boot. “The Truth About Scientists (or We Don’t Get the Respect We Deserve in Today’s Scientific Community)” has a robot voice recount the merits of The Simpsons, eventually focusing on Professor John Frink and his numerous contributions. “Astronauts Just Ain’t What They Used To Be (or The Titusville Campfire Song)” recalls the heady days of a bygone NASA and is reminiscent of the Ole Gray Mare. I should note that I bought my first car in Titusville, and that once at midnight in downtown Titusville, I glimpsed a stunning array of unidentifiable alien paraphernalia in a pawn shop window.
But perhaps the crowning piece in this epic are the last 34 tracks — the initial “55 MPH (or Agent MS-16 [Retired]),” which is as song-like as it gets, and which is then followed by 32 11-second solo turns (and one 22-second one) by a stunning variety of artists, including members of all the aforementioned bands, Moby, members of Pee Shy, Mice Parade, electric zitherist extraordinaire Brian Dewan, some Mommyheads, R. Stevie Moore, and many many more. Each gets eight bars or so to highlight their unique instrumental (or in Kochalka’s case, vocal) style. Even Peter “World’s Greatest Sound Guy” Fox adds his signature feedback, squawk and lack of low end to his measures. Triple-A Brilliant.
Tarquin Records: http://www.tarquinrecords.com