Jun 142012

You know David Pajo, or you know of him.

I can barely think of a more Zelig-like character in contemporary rock, swiftly changing identities as he works his way through so much of what we listen to.

[audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/13-Good-Morning-Captain-1.mp3|titles=Slint: Good Morning Captain]

Pajo played multiple instruments in various hardcore outfits in his native Louisville, rising to prominence as a founder of the dynamic Slint. He is a restless musician, consistently in the habit of packing his guitar case, and making stops with the likes of Tortoise, Stereolab, Will Oldham, Royal Trux, The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Interpol, Mogwai (aka the Scottish Slint Fan Club), and in the ill-advised Zwan.

[audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/12-Wedding-Song-No.3.mp3|titles=Papa M: Wedding Song No. 3] [audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/13-Krusty.mp3|titles=Papa M: Krusty]

He is no less chameleonic with his solo peregrinations, recording under the monikers Pajo, Evila, Dead Child, Aerial M, Papa M, and simply M. Depends on the day of the week, and his music can range from lonely corn-cob pipe musings to Math-rock instrumentals to whispered Eliot Smith-style vocals to living-room black metal to acoustic Misfits covers that make you do a double-take with the liner notes.

[audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Hex-I.mp3|titles=Evila: Hex I] [audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Attitude.mp3|titles=Pajo: Attitude]

I admire and enjoy the guts in Pajo’s music, and that it is somewhat unclassifiable. There’s a certain kind of hard to pin down nomadic Americana to his sounds. Regardless of the setting he’s playing in, it’s music that has a vibrant force, speaking from an emotional and experiential basis.

Do you hear it?

Here’s Dave Pajo with Tortoise.


  13 Responses to “The Enlisted Man”

  1. misterioso

    Is this part of some sort of far-reaching plot to make Molly Hatchet sound good? If so: well played, my man.

  2. ladymisskirroyale

    Ah, Slint. Whom I once confused with The Slits. My bad.

    Slim, there seems to be some similarity in Pajo and Jonathan Kane in their enjoyment of drone-y tempos.

    Perhaps that is what misterioso is responding negative to. It’s that or the fact that Pajo/Tortoise has 2 drummers, not 2 castles.

  3. I didn’t realize this was going to be the guy from Slint. I saw that name and thought it was the guy from Pedro the Lion, or one of those bands with that new-style band name construction.

    I remember Slint being a bit of a sensation when they hit. Weren’t they like 14 years old? They may have had a connection to Evanston, IL, where I was going to college (or having just left) at the time. I did not understand what they were trying to achieve, and I resented them. That Slint song with the talk-singing annoyed me. It’s like Steve Albini’s Big Black records. I just think, “Why?”

    The other songs you post, the instrumental stuff, is way more listenable. The drummers on that kind of music (is this all under the banner of “Math Rock,” a genre name definitely not fit for this mathphobe?) sound like they want to be Chad Wackerman or some fusion guy like that, but I like the guitars and the general atmosphere. I could listen to these instrumental songs while working – no problem.

    I still wonder Why with these kinds of artists? I love the visual artist Joseph Cooper, who made those sculptures in a box while living in his Mom’s basement, or whatever the story was. In the world of music, however, I seem to have an impulse to want artists to “make a stand” or “win” or something like that. I’m not sure what my problem is, but I tend to want music to get out there and shake something up (not necessarily in a “high energy” way, mind you). A guy like Pajo (and so many way underground musicians I often find interesting in private moments) strikes me as a Joseph Cooper type, which is much better than the airtight artist who might be most opposed to my worldview, your friend Wes Anderson.

    I’ll have to think about all this. Those instrumental Pajo songs are fine by me and will get continued spins. I am troubled, however, by that Tortoise video you posted. Why does the guy in the black t-shirt seem to be exerting less energy during the song than I do sitting at a desk all day editing manuscripts and managing projects and people? Maybe that’s part of the whole Math Rock aesthetic. No wonder I’m terrified by numbers!

  4. ladymisskirroyale

    Mod, I think you mean Joseph Cornell, not Joseph Cooper.

    When I saw Tortoise live, they were anything but low-energy. I went not really knowing much about them other than Mr. Royale being a serious fan and having heard some of their recordings. I was absolutely blown away; I was probably standing there mouth agape and drool pooling at my feet. The men could play, and would switch instruments and play something else just as powerfully. Sure, there were changing time signatures and other math rock signifiers but the artistry and energy was amazing.
    Here’s another Tortoise track:

    tonyola, help me out here!

  5. Yes, Cornell is who I meant. Thanks. I always get his last name wrong.

    Any time I’ve heard the music of Tortoise it’s fine, the way I like some prog-rock. I was simply cutting on the guy in the video for looking so normal. Couldn’t he have thrown on a tight, white jumpsuit or overalls? 🙂

  6. Slim Jade

    …pearls before swine.

  7. ladymisskirroyale

    Oink, Oink.

  8. misterioso

    lmkr, you are obviously a kind soul, and I thank you for trying to put a good spin on my negativity. But really it is the same problem, in essence, as arose when I was watching that Gentle Giant video: I just literally cannot fathom deriving pleasure on any level from listening to this. But, you know how it is, different strokes and all that happy stuff. See you at the Hatchet show.

  9. And props to both of you for hashing this stuff out in our public forum. People often ask me, “Mr. Mod, what gets your goat the most here in the Halls of Rock?” You know what I tell them? When people hold in their strong opinions then try to tell me about them off list or when we run into each other in the street. Remember that E. Pluribus Gergely guy? Total dick, at times, but he let it all hang out. tonyola and Happiness Stan bring it on home whenever they log in. (I really wish they would have put in for their vacations, though.) The thing any of us are trying to do when we bring our music to The Main Stage is get some feedback from friends here, even negative feedback or tales of personal torment. We can take it, right? We can do that without insulting each other personally, the way misterioso has done here. Positive feedback is accepted as well, I would think. Thanks.

  10. ladymisskirroyale

    Unfortunately, I’ve already seen (high school – didn’t know better) them so will pass on that pleasure again.

  11. misterioso

    That’s very nice, Mod. Now piss off, jerkface. No, really, you’re a good human being.

  12. misterioso

    Seriously, you saw Hatchet?!?! A complete reconstruction of the scene, por favor.

  13. ladymisskirroyale

    Because we are among friends:

    July 25, 1980: Riot, Molly Hatchet, Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult – outdoor show. Attended said concert not knowing much about these bands and being a total square. Probably smoked pot and was certain I would get pregnant if I sat down in the outdoor toilets. I don’t recall much from that show but was very very nervous as it was a first date with a guy who was really interested in the bands. I do recall that when Black Sabbath played, Phoenix was hit by one of their bizarre summer thunderstorms and Ozzy was up there among the lightening and thunder. The heavens opened up so Blue Oyster Cult was canceled. (But I saw them a few months later with Foghat, I believe.)

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