Apple O’

Kill Rock Stars

On Apple O there’s that sublime mix of the primitive and alien. The Keith Moon hurricane drumming of Greg Saunier, which made the last Deerhoof platter so beguiling (although to be fair, just one item among MANY), is raging all through “Dummy Discards A Heart” coupled with familiar mod garage riffs, but then paired up with discordant “off” riffs from twin guitarists John Dieterich and Chris Cohen and the strange high pitched yelps of singer Satomi Matsuzaki hailing a doodlebug. Take the blueprint and scribble all over it in a made up tongue and then fold it up into a origami fortuneteller. Same with the drum cascades that open “Heat Failure,” buoying up a Sonic Youth-esque guitar line and the Matsuzakis’ strange but wonderful bright exclamations and transcendently off-key singing. “Sealed With A Kiss” emulates the sound of machine hiss and factory shudder, a strange preciseness of boom and clatter, industrial music with a less nihilistic and more ramshackle bent, presided over by the Satomi like some otherworldly Lucy stuck in the assembly line of the chocolate factory, with utterances of “stop” over and over. All except for the French horn, that is.

Or the pseudo Sabbath riff that creeps up on “Flower,” and Matsuzaki skips in and around it and the jagged shards of distortion, like nothing is amiss — the “la la la la la” accompanying the main riff is especially devilish. Like a song of innocence and experience. “Apple Bomb” flows along like a children’s lullaby sung through a haze of lethargy and two days with no sleep, slip and stumble, quietly shuffle, but still the inherent sweetness and beauty shine through, that is, until it morphs violently into ragged Crazy Horse-esque swagger and stomp, with her vocals careening wildly out of tune and key and breath. “The Forbidden Fruits” has an almost bop-jazz groove and time signature to it, but more similar to James Chance than Wynton Marsalis. Restraint gives way to a fuzzed-out explosion mantra of high-end guitar and high las from the Matsuzaki. Yes, out there.

“L’Amour Stories” has some cool bursts of Jam-ish swagger and some fabulously inexplicable drumming that still manages to “rock” in the most rudimentary senses of the word; Satomi ducks in and out, harmonizing along like Miki from Lush — the voice becomes instrument. “Dinner For Two” bursts with the sublime thrill of the girl singer and an equally fractured boy singer attempting to harmonize together in an almost touching moment of sincerity of, I think, “glowing in candlelight.” “Panda Panda Panda” is an anomaly in itself, a Deerhoof number that is easily summed up by its title, Matsuzaki repeating “Panda!” in a cheery yip over and over again as a clipped guitar riff follows closely behind in lockstep, and the drums too, like three people tiptoeing and then stomping in short succession.

“Adam+Eve Connection” has two false beginnings, once as ghostly electronic isolationism, the second time as Spacemen 3-esque speaker-blowing overload, but then the third time to rise from the ashes as the boy singer warbles shyly in his lovely Dean Wareham-ish tones over lush and simple acoustic guitar washes. Finally, Matsuzaki joins him at the very end to sing “adam + eve connection together” several times. It’s heart-stopping. “Blue Cash” keeps the delicate, silvery thread of primitive folk spinning, with acoustic guitar and a barely detectable recorder playing, as Matsuzaki sings quietly along. The guitar parts are Nick Drake level beautiful simplicity, but so fucking vocal (like those old barebones Sebadoh recordings) and without fuzz and rumble to fight against, her voice is downright pretty, exhorting to “run run run run run…”

Fabulous record. And I still don’t even know what they look like.

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