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Larkin Grimm - Parplar


Larkin Grimm

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A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Many people study zen or meditate and then babble about it, but few ever live it. Larkin Grimm is one of those few, though I've no idea if she ever cracked open a book or entered a zendo. She has, however, been initiated in shamanic practice and led a life that reads like something from the annals of Ikkyu. While studying at Yale, she fled the suffocating pretense of academe before it boiled her brain and liquidated her nerves. Her parents were cultist hippies and her non-atomic upbringing has installed the woman with a sharp sense of the sardonic, always the trait of observant intelligence. To this day, she's had no fixed address and prefers living in the woods, but has recruited the attentions and friendships of such musicians as Devendra Banhart and Spires That In The Sunset Rise (one of my fave new prog groups), with whom she's shared bills.

The reason's not hard to see. For someone who got serious about the musical arts only four years ago, the depth of her powers are heady. The promo lit claims Grimm sounds like a woman in "full orgasmic release", unfortunately a fairly tatty backhanded compliment and indicative of the anonymous label scribe's sexual inexperience. What she does bring to the table is, among many things, what I and others had hoped Klaus Nomi would have manifested after his 70s televisional debut—on In Concert, Don Kirschner's Rock Farrago, or something like that—but never followed up on, his solo release a disappointment. Grimm has a gift for falsetto dripping with sarcasm and earthy naiveté, even arch intent, as when Airlord and Pictures adopted the practice way back when, or even Uriah Heep for that matter. It's a theatrically delightful motif strongly recalling The Lollipop Guild in The Wizard of Oz, occurring with frequency and investing her work with a full-blooded motif rather than novelty.

There's a warm and experienced intimacy in cuts like Blond and Golden Johns unsettling for its confidence in disclosing the iron fist in the velvet glove, purring while showing fangs. Listening to it, one understands how the Sirens lured their victims to doom despite the clear dangers present. Grimm's backing band fully understands the blend of honey and vinegar, presenting an innocent toybox seriality counterpointed by a very nervous mosquitoey violin. All through Parplar runs the truth to the proposition that one must go through the world's shit, not just the deceptive gifts, in order to truly understand it. Grimm understands the world very well indeed, and her explication deserves better documentation. The recording here is good, certainly good enough to warrant the purchase just to obtain such unusual art, but it needs to be as clear and precise as Grimm's levels-deep acuity: the matrix is often just as important as the diamond.

Track List:

  • They Were Wrong
  • Ride That Cyclone
  • Blond and Golden Johns
  • Domincan Rum
  • Parplar
  • Durge
  • Be My Host
  • Mina Marou
  • My Justine
  • Anger in Your Liver
  • All the Pleasures
  • Fall on my Knees
  • How to Catch a Lizard
  • The Dip
  • Hope for the Hopeless

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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