by PfarmersPfarmers


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The experimental rock side project of singer/multi-instrumentalist Danny Seim from post-rock band Menomena, drummer Bryan Devendorf of the National, and horn player Dave Nelson, who's performed with the likes of Sufjan Stevens and the David Byrne & St. Vincent collaboration, Pfarmers explore timbre, texture, and rhythm on the adventurous Gunnera. Titled after a dream Seim had involving being reincarnated as a plant, nature is thematic -- lyrically, but often musically -- on the album. For instance, an instrumental opens the venture, setting a scene with moaning, crying, pachyderm-like trombone over starry, sustained synth chords, like a minimalist sci-fi film score gracefully landing a space ship in open green pastures. The rest of the record has vocals; however, voice and lyrics contribute to an ambience rather than vent, romance, or even so much as narrate. On "The Ol' River Gang," Seim repeats, in his Peter Gabriel-reminiscent worn-sandpaper tone, "Water/There's something in the water." The song has other anxiety-inducing lyrics, but rhythm rules with impressively distinctive, attacking acoustic-electric drum sounds in a creative, off-kilter performance by Devendorf. The album employs motifs and, often, rotating instrument voices, much like a jazz endeavor, while staying firmly rooted in rock rhythms and synth pop instrumentation. The closer, "Promised Land," a nearly nine-minute, sensual creature, does this with synths leading into vocals leading into guitars and drums, then everyone together, in and out, and back again ("I'm going back to the promised land"). As on the rest of the record, the song evokes earthiness somehow, despite the use of synths and processed percussion, and there's no wasted space throughout; the album seems acutely aware of time, space, and grain, exploring without getting bogged down or overwhelming. Gunnera is bound to appeal more to Menomena fans than to casual fans of the National, but while it's unconventional, it's even more so enthralling, loaded with worthwhile atmospheres and grooves.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/12/2015
Label: Joyful Noise Records
UPC: 0656605486123
catalogNumber: 54861
Rank: 102625


  1. Benthos
  2. You Shall Know the Spirit
  3. Work For Me
  4. El Dorado
  5. The Ol' River Gang
  6. How To Build a Tube
  7. Promised Land

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