Wild Man Brandishing An Uprooted Tree
Special release for Halloween. Written, performed and recorded by Geoff Soule (of the band F***) in West-Oakland, California. The CD comes in a handmade paper package and is limited to a numbered edition of 500. PITCHFORK REVIEW: Geoff Soule A Wild Man Brandishing an Uprooted Tree [Supermegacorporation; 2001] Rating: 7.9 This little jewel of a CD is exactly the kind of release that's in danger of slipping through the cracks. Aren't you grateful to have us catchers in the rye here at Pitchfork rescuing innocent little artistic statements like these from the chasm of obscurity? Limited to 500 copies and lovingly packaged, A Wild Man Brandishing an Uprooted Tree is the minimally heralded and seemingly intentionally obscure solo outing from Geoff Soule, the drummer of F*** (who should in no way be confused with the God of F***). And while, in the pantheon of solo albums from drummers, this one doesn't deliver the goods like, say, almost anything by Robert Wyatt, it beats Peter Criss hands down-- even in the arena of cheese-factor, as Wild Man comes packaged with a miniature book of haiku detailing, level by level, the classic video game 'Mr. Do,' accompanied by full-color illustrations. This same kind of perplexing attention to detail (or rather, attention to perplexing details) carries over to the music, which was modestly recorded on a four-track at home. Wild Man is nothing that's going to single-handedly breathe renewed life into the beleaguered genre of lo-fi, but it easily trumps anything F*** has released since 1997's Pardon My French. Cramming angular indie rock, harsh post-punk freakouts, and folky ramblings into a highly digestible 24 minutes is no easy feat, but this record does it by striking a deal between tossed-off elegant ease and careful concision. Even the brief instrumental interludes don't come off as mere filler-- hell, they make up some of the album's best moments, and seem very purposefully selected to ease the transition between the wildly dissimilar styles presented by the 'proper' songs. It's all carried off with a similar kind of fractured feeling of running-off-in-too-many-directions-at-once that characterizes Skip Spence's Oar-- a vision spelled out with the language of surrealism. 'Ghost,' probably the mellowest track, leads off the album with an almost country vibe as Soule sings, 'My life is a ghost's life, standing at the window watching, waiting.' This is following by a jarring guitar workout fittingly titled 'Punk' that has the treble cranked to 11, and sounds something like a lost track off Wire's Pink Flag. The weakest track is next, the very Seattle-circa-'92 sounding 'Kant,' but fortunately, this is followed by a wonderful series of songs, beginning with 'Ur,' which reminded me why I still love a lot of lo-fi, bedroom-recorded indie rock, no matter how much garbage is released under that mantle. Soule moans, 'You are one six billionth falling around the sun,' while a bassline lurches, followed by a little bit of planned sloppiness on the guitar. No drums. Nice and simple, but effective. Next is the highly Sebadoh-ish 'Stay,' dishing up lines like, 'Oh, your hair is pawful and my paw is so careful.' Again, the key is that the song doesn't outstay it's welcome. Two pleasant enough, though not too outstanding, instrumental songs come up next, both sounding something like Wowee Zowee-era Pavement. 'Monkey' has a slightly goofy guitar riff propelling it along, but then again, it's kind of an intentionally goofy song to begin with, so it works. 'Vegas' ends the album on a note similar to the opener: observations like, 'Is my arm around your waist? Is my head clear to the dump?' delivered in such a straightfaced manner as to elude to some kind of inner logic. It's these kinds of moments that present the album as a riddle to be solved. And the most surprising thing about the album as a whole is how long it holds out, revealing it's secrets slowly, remaining puzzling enough to bear repeated listens. It arrives with all the outward trappings of a vanity item for hardcore F*** fans, and with almost no fanfare-- but when given time to present it's case, it ends up being quite a bit more. All this from the drummer (of all people) of a mid-level indie rock band whose catalog is hit-or-miss at best. Sometimes you get more than you expect. -Jason Nickey, April 05, 2002.