Sunday, August 22, 2021

#16 Illuminate - Papertiger Sound

Original release date: May 2014.

Papertiger Sound is the most obscure name on this list by an order of magnitude, at least. Probably several. The only other outfit that could have competed, Scary Bear Soundtrack, didn't make the cut for the very good reason I don't own a whole, legally-purchased album by them. I wish I did but I don't. And anyway I'm pretty sure SBS are better-known.

I found both bands the same way, doing animal keyword searches on YouTube. Musically-minded readers may recall that when I first started blogging about music I used much of my animal archive - dogs vs cats, foxes vs tigers vs lions, ponies vs... well, ponies were on their own.

That's what I did for a few years to find new music: put certain types of words into search engines, mostly YouTube, and followed the links. Animals was a fecund category. Colors, too. Materials worked. Weather. Abstract nouns. There are kinds of ways of expressing yourself that appeal to people who make interesting sounds or that's a theory, anyway.

Of all the bands I found that way, and it was a lot, Papertiger Sound are quite possibly the best. Or my favorite. Let's not go there again.

That's the original video I saw. The one that sold me instantly. It's the two of them, because of course they're a duo. Apparently two people make a band since the White Stripes. They're playing on something called BBC Introducing In Norfolk. I believe I've shown it before but if I can't remember it's a sure bet no-one else can.

It's just the two of them with guitars but it's so bleak. That's the defining feature of the Papertiger Sound sound - bleakness. I don't believe there's a single track of theirs I've heard that doesn't feel lost, desolate, empty, hopeless, yearning, isolated, despairing, forlorn or, yes, and most of all, bleak

It's their voices as much as anything. Especially Dan Gelder's. He has both a tone and a timbre that reek of loss. He sounds sometimes as if he'd rather be wrapped in a blanket, curled up on the floor at the back of the airing-cupboard. Kerstin Wilson's voice is lighter but she's no barrel of fun monkeys either. Put the two of them together and Morrissey would need a stiffener to keep his spirits up.

The lyrics don't run against that grain and neither do the arrangements. Cheery they are not. Give this next one a listen and see what I mean, but not if you're prone to fits of melancholy. Or, if you are, not if you don't enjoy them.

When that xylophone comes in... oh, boy. 

It's tough finding videos of songs on Illuminate to pull out here. Papertiger Sound have a thin internet presence. Illuminate was their last album and I can only find one track to show you. And that doesn't have a video. I'm going to cheat and throw this one in. It's from an E.P.called "Everything Matters". Honestly, everything they do sounds the same anyway. In a good way. In the best way.

Illuminate may not even be my favorite of theirs, even though it's the one I chose. They have five "albums" but one of them only has four tracks and another five. I call that an EP even if Bandcamp disagrees. I own all of them. There are also a scattering of singles and EPs of which I have whatever I've been lucky enough to glean from the web. It's not enough.

Until now, for the rest of the bands on the list, I haven't bothered linking to places where you can get the records. Even the most obscure can be turned up easily enough on Amazon or Discogs or Spotify. I will link to the Bandcamp page for Illuminate, though. There was a new EP at the end of last year after a five year hiatus although Bandcamp doesn't seem to want to let me buy it. I'd like them to do more so please click on everything. Any traffic they get might encourage them. 

It must be difficult, even without a pandemic, what with one of them living in Nova Scotia and the other in Norfolk but it's not as though they've ever been productive. They have a YouTube channel that hasn't seen an update in a decade. It has seven subscribers. That's only two more than I've got!

All of which goes to show that talent gets you absolutely nowhere. No wonder they sound so bleak.

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