Artist: Palace Music
Title: Arise Therefore
Catalogue Number: WIG LP24
Year of Release: 1996
A2 A Sucker's Evening
A3 Arise, Therefore
A4 You Have Cum In Your Hair And Your Dick Is Hanging Out
A5 Kid Of Harith
A6 The Sun Highlights The Lack In Each
B1 No Gold Digger
B3 A Group Of Women
B4 Give Me Children
B5 The Weaker Soldier
I wanted to like this album more, I really did. I've been looking forward to getting to Will Oldham aka Palace Music, Palace Brothers, Palace, Will Pushkin, Bonnie 'Blue' Billy or Bonnie 'Prince Billy' to name just a few aliases. I've got more material under the Bonnie 'Prince' Billy than any other, which is why we've come to this album under The Letter B.
And I wanted to start off the next few months of reviews on a high note, as I'm really a huge fan of Will Oldham, and think he's currently building one of the strongest bodies of work in musical history. I've got more on CD that I'll try to get on vinyl to review before we finish, but it was a shame that out of the 20 or so records of his I currently have, this was the first.
There are two other things I wanted to point out before the review proper might or might not begin.
1) Piano and Organ are by David Grubbs.
2) 2004 saw the release of Bonnie 'Prince' Billy plays Greatest Palace Music. None of the tracks that were on this release, and that you therefore might call "Greatest Palace Music", were taken from Arise Therefore.
Despite the appearance of a full band - two guitars, vocals, keys, bass, and drums - all the songs collected here are sparse, almost skeletal affairs, the other instruments hanging off the ever-present plinky-plonk drums provided by a charity-shop drum machine rather than a drummer.
Stablemate opens things with a dark and ominous bassline, and if you can't make out the lyrics from the sheet above, here's a sample verse:
When will you work and when will you struggle
To die in a day and rescend your fate
Cause I haven't the time nor have I the need
To sit here and wait
And this song sets the mood for the rest of the album!The title track starts of in an almost jaunty way, before the lyrics quickly puncture that mood, "There will be no end soon... people will be scared". Track A4, which I know from the Guarapero (Lost Blues 2) under the alternative title Boy, Have You Cum, is, not surprisingly, slower and darker here.
Disorder is my favourite tune on the album thus far, possibly because it wouldn't be out of place on I See A Darkness. The drums have been turned down a lot, which helps. The piano add melodic washes that are effective, and the lyrics have a child-like melody and simple AABB rhyme scheme, and begins:
It's Lisa, or Laura, I know not her real name
which is probably pretty, or something the same
And then goes on to reveal that the protaganist is about to die by hanging, after violently murdering said Lisa or Laura.
Will's almost-broken vocals, half-spoken and half-straining to get the words out, heavy bass, light guitar loops or chords and piano or organ added for mood more than anything else, all this, together with the demo feel granted by the 'drums', make the tracks here sound like a collection of out-takes rather than an album proper.
But then the intensity of the delivery, the claustrophobia of the production (Steve Albini), and the subject matter of the majority of lyrics (sex and death, essentially, but done in a franker way than anyone else I can think of [e.g. in A Sucker's Evening - "make a noise, crack a glass/I'll hold his arms, you fuck him"]) can make for an uncomfortable listen at times. And make me feel it was more deliberate and crafted than I'm giving credit for. It maybe just needs more work on the part of the listener to like it.