scribbles on the flag.
If it ain’t btrsted don‘t frx it. As far as l‘m aware this statement has never been uttered by any member of Grant Lee Buffalo but it could well be an edict they subscribe to. Having produced a couple of gems in Fussy and Mfg/Hy .Im’ Moon. the trail they pioneered has been furthered by (‘np/m'u/m/is. their new collection of musical fables wrenched from the
Grant Lee Buffalo have just released their third address to the American nation. Brian Donaldson
With more than modest success behind them. the
band were allocated extra studio time for Cup/wrupn/LV which. to some. can be the
i creative death. Not so for the Buffs. ‘On the other I two i may have heard something in my head and not i tried to explore it.‘ explains bassist and producer ' Paul Kimble. ‘()n this record ljust went for it ' because we had the time to do it. I usually have one eye on the clock and one eye on the tape machine but 3 this time we had the opportunity to develop ideas.‘ At the core of Grant Lee Buffalo‘s ideas is the state ofthe States today. With tracks entitled ‘America %
Snoring' and ‘Demon Called Deception‘
their canon. the listener gets the general picture. With new songs such as ‘Homespun‘ and ‘Crackdown'. they pinpoint what they see as the main threat to the USA — the enemy within. especrally the emergent white militias who had previously been seen as just a lunatic fringe which held little threat. The Oklahoma bombing changed all that. Their concerns are also deeply personal. In ‘Hyperion and Sunset'. the song . follows the escape from Los Angeles by a group of
friends to the more structurally and politically stable
kiss of Northwest.
buckets of misery.
Whether the issue is big or small. the power of the lyrics and the drive of the music is constant. All this may make the trio sound like a sad bunch of whinging. humourless. moaning party-emptiers. Not a bit of it. ‘We get perceived as this depressing. heavy hand but there's real humour in the songs.‘ counters Kimble. A prime example is the video shot by Anton (‘orbijn for ‘Mockingbirds‘ from Mic/Irv Jm' Moon. ‘We met him and talked for about two minutes.’ he recalls. ‘He said “OK. I've got this idea. The birds are the people and you are in the cage." We thought "brilliant. let‘s do it."‘ indeed. anyone who has seen the boys ﬂapping their wings while singer Grant Lee Phillips larks about in a paper hat can hardly conclude that they are a set ofjoyless
Having cut their proverbial teeth in early 90s LA. the track ‘Fuzzy’ appeared on Bob Mould‘s Singles ()nly label in I992 nabbing the attention of Slash/
The Buffalo boys wander the urban plains
i London records. A deal was swiftly agreed. Touring with Pearl Jam clustered a wider audience and earned a thumbs-up from Saint Michael of Stipe. What chance of a Monster-like switch of taek'? ‘We’re
. liable to head in any sort of direction.‘ claims Kimble. ‘We're very susceptible to our environment and where we're working. Maybe if we go to New Jersey the next one will be a rocking record.‘ Stranger things have happened.
For the meantime. the glories of C‘uppernpo/is will more than suffice until they decide that pumping up the decibels and resting their feet on the monitors is the logical step forward. For the inquisitive or trainspottcr. the new album‘s title holds little more significance than being the name of a town where Phillips grew up. ‘We just liked the name.‘ admits Kimble. 'lt seemed like a title that all of the songs could exist in in a sort of storybook kind of way.‘ As somebody once said. it's the way they tell them. (Ira/H Lee Buffalo play The Arr/res. Glasgmr' (m 'I'ut’sr/(rv I6.
“An inter-media spectacular oi electro-acoustic, mixed source and live music, featuring four first perlormances’ sounds at the very least intriguing enough to take a further step on the line of enquiry, not to mention actually going to hear what can warrant such a description. But flue Voice’s “Electric Voice’ performance will be about more than lust listening to music. ‘one Voice is
One Voice but many media
really about trying to present new means of communication for contemporary music,’ says its musical director Jeremy Bull, ‘and this concert is specially designed to present a whole range of contemporary music in
an unorthodox contemporary fashion. I know it’s going to be uncompromising. Breaking down barriers is a phrase i don’t really like, but we’re trying to put music we like to play in a different format, which is not contextual. It’s basically in the style of a rock gig.’ The music to be presented at ‘Electric Voice’ is partly electronic and partly acoustic. ‘There is no pigeonholing of styles,’ says Gull. “it’s completely extravagant, but they’re all very approachable pieces. The second half is made up of Steve Reich’s Different mm with video accompaniment, which we’ve made. it’s a trainspotter’s heaven really.’ There is also a jazz funk piece by young Edinburgh graduate Mathew
Swann for rapper and ensemble with M from the Edinburgh band Blacka’nize providing the rapping with the jazz influences coming from respected tau drummer Tom Bancroft. Video work is a strong feature ot the performance. ‘A lot of it will be staged as a dramatic event,’ explains Oull, ‘using live camera work so that you can see the intricacies of the performance and actually see the diffusion. it’s an experiment and the kind of thing we want to go into in the future. I hope that we will be giving a different experience of contemporary music by bringing the audience closer to it.’ (carol Main) One Voice play the Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh, Sat 13. .
The List 12-25 Jul 1996 35