Avey Tare & Kria Brekkan: Pullhair Rubeye
Paw Tracks

By now, you're probably heard that Pullhair Rubeye, the aural offspring of Avey Tare (Animal Collective member Dave Portner) and Kria Brekkan (ex-Múm pixie Kristin Anna Valtysdottir), plays in reverse, a novelty treatment that has provoked upset in some critical quarters. Yep, not just a part within a song or a whole song, but the entire album plays backwards. The pair first recorded the material at their practice space in Brooklyn using guitars and piano and then mixed it using a friend's cheap two-track. The decision to present the material backwards came about last December, about the same time that the two, stuck in NYC for Christmas, took in David Lynch's Inland Empire. (Of course, Pullhair Rubeye's clearest Lynch connection is to Twin Peaks' dancing man and the infamously cryptic sound of his reversed speech.)

Well, consider me perverse but I like the material quite a bit. Comparing the issued songs with their ‘corrected,' forward versions strikes me as misguided, as Pullhair Rubeye, like any release, should be judged on its own terms, regardless of whatever conceptual trickery might have been involved in its creation. It would be more relevant, for example, to note the album's half-hour running time, for example, which, though brief, feels just about right for such an idiosyncratic suite of song experiments, or the regrettable Chipmunk-like effect that sometimes surfaces. As one would expect, guitars exude that familiar fluttering character associated with backwards treatments and the singing resembles inscrutable alien transmissions. Múm listeners will also know that Brekkan's natural voice already sounds permanently altered by helium, even before the additional disorienting reverse treatment. The duo's voices swell rapturously during “Lay Lay Off, Faselam,” where the abrupt changes in volume lend the singing a rabid quality, but the album's no exercise in outrageous psychedelic posturing; some of the songs are gentle in spirit, and an appealing yearning character emerges in “Who Wellses in My Hoff.” The mini-album includes a few woozy instrumentals too, such as “Palenka” where the rapid repetition of a guitar ostinato produces a phase-shifting quality. Ultimately, the album sounds less jarring than one might expect, and its eight trance-like songs possess a loose, organic feel that enhances Pullhair Rubeye's dream-like ambiance.

May 2007