Saturday, November 3, 2007

Prinzhorn Dance School

"Prinzhorn Dance School"

Start from nothing - void, silence - and build. Children's rhymes had it right the first time. That's the twin maxims - from where I sit/stand - behind the stark, difficult beauty of Prinzhorn Dance School. Their sound is that of basic building blocks, the unbearable space between notes, silence as the third member of this wide-eyed duo, shouty, off-kilter lyrics that recall playground taunts and nursery rhymes as much as they do sociopolitical texts (the anti-corporatism and big-box store hate of "Do You Know Your Butcher" with its muttered fatalisms "Do you know your paper/Comes from the big store/Next to the big store" or "Worker's" accusatory, wake-up shouts of "You are the worker!").

Instruments are basic, insistent basslines (like when you first started playing the bass and you just wanted it to sound fucking cool) are supported by spare, mostly absent, drumming and wiry guitar interjections. The vocals are delivered stridently, matter-of-fact, more like slogans or prayers or threats by the bug-eyed unsmiling male vocalist, with underlines and counterpoints and punctuations provided by the girl vocalist's Huggy Bear/riot grrrly yelps and shouts, and occasional heartmelting duets. It don't swing, and you're probably not going to dance to it- too bad boo hoo- but it has this static nervous beauty to it that I just can't get over. Anxiety is freedom.

Sonic antecedents influences include Huggy Bear, Gang of Four, the Fall, Wire, Au Pairs. But Prinzhorn Dance School is even more stripped down and stark, so it (thankfully) becomes so much more difficult to play the rote game of "spot the influences." Intense eyes staring you down. Songs pulled out of thin air, you realize they were always there.

-Matthew Moyer

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