Thanks to Bill’s ennui quest and search for undiscovered, or at least still under the radar, music at GIITTV, I’ve been recently introduced to the revelation that is Pindar’s Apes. How something as adroit, discerning and intelligent as The Eternally Recurring Band can remain undisturbed and hidden away is criminal.
Scant information is known about the East Anglian duo of Marco Pellegrini and Richard Pratt. We can at least though surmise that they are well-read in antiquity; choosing the perplexing Greek lyric poet Pindar of Thebes as their moniker, and referencing various congruous lines from a polygenesis spread of ancient, and modern, quotes, prose and philosophy: clever in a way that’s engaging and evocative. The title of this latest 12-song collection is also deep in atavistic-steeped myth; explained on their website with s shroud of folkloric authenticity: “Various musicologists and cultural historians have referred to the ‘eternally recurring band’ a mysterious and spontaneous phenomenon that is said to occur every two hundred and fifty years or so”, it goes on to mention that these musicians could be found to, “…pacify turbulent hearts” during times of strife and war; Pindar’s Apes are “rumored to be the latest incarnation of this band”.
But what does such classical alluded pretensions sound like musically? Thankfully the heavily acoustic guitar-led sound is both diaphanous and rich in atmospherics; enchantingly capable of both summing up mid-life romantic reflections (‘She Shines In The Bath), and surmounting existential-like poetry on mundane everyday surroundings (‘Beware The Stairs’). Dodging any obvious categorization, Pindar’s Apes drift between moments of Dylan, Cohen, Walker and the kitchen-sink sound of Manchester (swaying close to the more sociological observations of The Inspiral Carpets at times); without settling on anything definitive, though you could say that their influences cast them as producing music for grown-ups. Themes cite resignation, religion (lots of that, and plenty of salvation), loss and life’s foibles, though there’s also enough lifting, lilting rays of hope and reward to be found.
Highlights, for there are many, include the Depeche Mode psycho-country stomp attack on the cult and exploitation of Elvis, ‘Elvis In Shrouds’ – “I’m a parasite/I live in Elvis Presley’s entourage/I’m alive to the absurdity of what I am” – and the chilling blues-pitched summary of a bleak salesman’s life, ‘The Great Masturbator’ – “At night he lies in the bath/sees prostitutes in the ceiling”.
Whether intentionally remaining recondite as part of some slow-burning strategy, or just overlooked, Pindar’s Apes deserve more for producing such an minor opus. It wouldn’t be ridiculous for me to already place this album in my choice picks of the year; high praise indeed, but desreved.