Papa M : Whatever, Mortal

Papa M : Whatever, Mortal


Slint man sings. Very good too...

As one of the Kentucky demi-gods who made Slint‘s ‘Spiderland’ – an album so

emotionally taxing that the band was, allegedly, subsequently admitted to a local mental

asylum – Dave Pajo’s place at the pinnacle of lo-fi’s Mount Olympus is

already guaranteed.

Dave Pajo has recently discovered a desire to sing – something he’d managed

to avoid for 1999’s dreamlike ‘Live From A Shark Cage’ – and on ‘Whatever,

Mortal’, his deadpan tones make Leonard Cohen sound like Mariah Carey.

That Pajo barely sings only brings out the sly unease that lies beneath the

surface of his songs. There’s something unnervingly fragile about the na├»ve

melodies of ‘Many Splendoured Thing’ and the dour ‘Sabotage’ – like Syd

Barrett, Roky Eriksson or Skip Spence, Pajo’s is a brilliance that teeters

on the brink of genuine illness.

In Papa M‘s strange internal world, men stand guard over gravestones,

vultures circle and love is forever two steps out of reach. This is country

music to a degree, but undermined by a strange psychedelic undercurrent

absent in the likes of Bonnie Prince Billy and Smog.

It’s wild an uneven stuff and as Pajo dips his finger into the darker

corners of folk music, he’s leaving the normal world far behind. For the

few, the brave and the geeky, a thing of monstrous beauty.

Jim Wirth