Parplar is the Young God debut from the fabulous, itinerant force of nature Larkin Grimm. She’s got an elemental voice that comes from somewhere under the earth. She alternately moans like a woman-in-full orgasmic release, wails like a banshee, or coos like a crazed little girl, depending on her mood. Parplar was co-produced by Michael Gira (Devendra Banhart, Akron/Family, Angels Of Light, Swans) and Larkin Grimm. It was recorded at Old Soul Studio in Catskill NY, with additional recording at Seizure’s Palace in Brooklyn and mixed at Trout Recording, Brooklyn. Larkin’s risen to the occasion for these recording and really found herself as a singer delivering absolutely stellar vocal performances of songs that are sometimes soulful, whimsical, sensual or bizarre. The production is as varied and unpredictable as Larkin herself.
This untamed, moon-worshiping, blood-and-guts Appalachian gypsy is a peculiar folkie. Larkin Grimm’s 15-song debut for Michael Gira’s Young God label is informed by sex magic, the Holy Ghost, and lizards; Gira calls her “the sound of the eternal mother and wrath of all women.” Indeed, as Grimm has stated, “Parplar” is “a lesbian feminist album,” estrogen battling the testosterone of her “beefy male collaborators” – labelmates Fire on Fire and others adding whirls of accordion, horns, banjo, and guitars. These synergistic skirmishes add a feral energy to the tuneful, haunting gallop of “Ride That Cyclone” and the short, disturbing “The Dip.” “Damn the man in you,” Grimm intones on the sprightly title track. But her shaman’s dementia, as eccentrically vibrant as it is (though subject to a chipmunk-y shrillness), isn’t Grimm’s best calling card. That prize belongs to the old-world purity of her voice. There’s an almost tender innocence found beneath the stark, dark lullaby of “They Were Wrong” and the hallucinogenic
coos of “Be My Host.” Add the gently clanging symphonette “My Justine” and the bubbly traditionalism of “All the Pleasures” and, heard in the right light, “Parplar” is a cunningly remarkable album. (Out now) – TRISTRAM LOZAW/Sunday Boston Globe 11/3
She’s been a poor Appalachian child and an Ivy League hipster. She’s bunked down in trendy cities and third-world countries, communes and boarding school, tents and vans. Most of all, Larkin Grimm’s lived in her own head. Remnants from each stage of the 27-year-old’s life turn up all over third album, Parplar (Young God), and not necessarily where you’d expect them. The title tune is cosmic free jazz; the closer, “Hope for the Hopeless,” is spiteful and earthy. The first highlight, “Ride the Cyclone,” makes the most of Grimm’s soft, sinister inflections; later, she pivots from swoony to witchy with little warning. “Anger in Your Liver” and “Be My Host,” with their sweet melodies and simple lyrics, are twisted lullabies that a scoundrel might sing to her dying mother. On record, a large cast of freaky folks contributes to the mystic vibe, but the village is a luxury for a wanderer like Grimm. She’s used to being on her own, and she doesn’t need much – an acoustic guitar, maybe a banjo – to conjure something dark and lovely. MJ Fine/Philadephia City Paper 11/5
Arriving on the same Young God label that introduced Devendra BanhartÂ¹s shaman-influenced folk into greater light, Larkin Grimm has a biography that travels a similar arc. Born in the Appalachians to a commune environment of multiple hippie parents, she eventually landed at Yale only to freak out at
its homogeneity, and like Christopher McCandless, she took off Â³into the wild.Â²
After stops in Thailand and Guatemala, an encounter with a Cherokee shaman in southern Alaska lit her spiritual wisdom and convinced her to return to Yale where she activated her music career. On Parplar, she convincingly produces an album that gorgeously entwines folk with otherworldly sounds.
Like Gillian Welch, she can sound quite traditional. Â³Ride That Cyclone,Â² with its rollicking ensemble of fiddles and horns, is part hillbilly hoedown, part New Orleans brass second line. But when she explores sound as on Â³My Justice,Â² with its cascade of a glockenspielÂ¹s twinkling bells and pushing her voice to its upper register, she morphs Â³old timeyÂ² with her eccentric nature, assembling something truly her own. Recommended. Glen Starkey/San Luis Obispo New Times 10/31
Larkin Grimm’s previous album, The Last Tree, was a genuine surprise — it appeared without warning from the Secret Eye label and courted my attention with its careful blend of traditional folk and ambient abstraction. It was an album begging to be heard by more than the select few bespectacled indie buyers and their privileged circle of sycophants, so it comes as no shock that a larger label has snapped her up for this third outing. That the label is Michael Gira’s Young God gives even more credibility to her cause. Here is a character who doesn’t do things lightly and has also opted to co-produce, assuring that all Larkin’s music achieves the fidelity it sometimes required. You see the songs were always a latent force in her music; they might have been shrouded in noise and abstraction at times, but her unique, powerful voice carried genuine old-tyme songs, something which is explored in even more depth on Parplar. There are sure to be those of us who lament the loss of Larkin’s more experimental side, but her mischievous
edge is still present, just tamed slightly to allow those soul-grabbing songs to power forth. There’s an almost old-West theme going on here, and rather than sink into the nu-folk parody of many of her peers, Larkin has made it entirely her own lending a humor and restless charm to her songwriting. Anyone who has managed to catch her in a live situation will already know of her ineffable skill in this area, but here she has finally captured it on record. “Ride That Cyclone” sounds as if Larkin is re-treating the Bonanza score with a feminine charm, while “Dominican Rum” is a captivatingly melancholy hoedown, and these themes pop up again and again throughout the record. Whether tempered with bubbling electronics (“Parplar”) or dropped into the Joanna Newsom patented plucked pixie-pop framework (“My Justine”), we never seem too far from the back porch, the mountains ever in the distance and the sound of rushing water in the background. This is music for desolate, untouched lands and Larkin seems totally at home pitching her tent there. JT/Other Music October 29/08
Inspired by Â³the imaginational galaxy where orgasms come from, formed out of dreams of leggy, surgically enhanced blondes,Â² the new album from fiercely talented radical environmentalist Larkin Grimm is, even by her own standards, a pretty stellar collection of atmospheric, magical songs that consolidates the promising noise experiments of her previous albums. No fears of jumping the shark here, Parplar is the best thing LarkinÂ¹s done to date. ItÂ¹s also Â³a bit of a lesbian feminist albumÂ² that explores various
themes of violence, sex and spirituality and takes some of its inspiration from the likes of Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Amy Winehouse. Â³Becoming one with the human race is difficult,Â² writes Larkin on her blog, Â³but fortunately IÂ¹ve been inspired by the struggles of a lot of other women from my generation.Â²
Parplar is the 26 year old itinerantÂ¹s first release on Michael GiraÂ¹s hallowed Young God Records Â home of Wears The Trousers heroine Lisa Germano Â and was trimmed down from a potential 50 songs written during Â³a near-manic tidal wave of creative energyÂ². ODominican RumÂ¹ is a disturbing portrait of a beautiful, wrathful woman literally coming apart in Â³the ugly world of menÂ². Over a frenzied piano, tambourine and banjo rhythm Larkin delivers a bizarre tirade of potent, incredible poetry Â sample lyric: Â²The microcosmic spiralled eggs inside my uterus are sparkling and bursting with the greenest yellow pus / the milk that feeds my baby from my breast is flowing black / it looks like oil and smells like death and I canÂ¹t hold it back.Â² Highly recommended. Nomad/wearsthetrousers.com/ 10/31