Lyrics and cadences reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s, steel drums, an acne-scarred/nasal voice, and rhythmic jerks and stutters: “Lighthouse,” the first course on Fruit of the Spirit, shouldn’t work.
But if you’ve ever been charmed by Kevin Ayers, Soft Machine, or early Roxy Music, it’s close to gotta-have-a-smoke-after-sex. Even when Paleo, née David Andrew Strakany, lapses into the lesser quirk we may have experienced from Fleet Foxes, Avi Buffalo and Backwords. Or when he back-strokes into the relatively strange waters of whispered vocals, occasional piano chords, a theremin-sounding something, and hints of hymns (a revolving cadre of musicians, including Sound Dog, crept in through the windows). It’s not for the superficial or impatient, this. But, in the way of a special olympics for extraterrestrial gymnasts, it always fascinates. Certainly, Robert Wyatt has been mashing nearly blinding nudity with audio fetishes for ages. But Paleo is the most compelling exponent of any such thing that I’ve heard in several moons. His meticulously slip-shod sounds would make lovely segues with those of Daniel Johnston or Jad Fair. And, goodness knows, you can’t say that every day.
With Patrick Stolley of the Daytrotter Project, Strakany achieved his goal of making an analog-only recording. That’s probably part of how Fruit of the Spirit so addictively blends sonic lusciousness with cra-cra. For those who appreciate the opportunity to fill open minds with something worthy of the real estate, it may prove the existence of a higher form of intelligence. Or a deal with the devil, who may just be terribly misunderstood.
-Post by Mary Leary