it’s the closest to his contributions to slint as he got again. a bit of off-kilter beats on the drums, and the mesmeric guitar riffs. reliance on the skill and talent with instruments that weren’t voice and lyrics (that came later). it could well have been because a number of them were written and performed only a couple of years after that band ceased. it makes this a somewhat odd compilation, charting something.
dave writes about it strangely, and i wonder how much of his retro/introspection relates to this being around the same time he was performing with zwan. he does talk in the liner notes about being a dick by re-recording parts played by other musicians, in some likely attempt at perfection. you can tell he commits himself to be the best at what he does, and he gets there, but i don’t know if that’s the same as forsaking all other people and artists in the process. only they could say.
there are some unusual steps, again (like whatever, mortal), but i think this is what characterises his storytelling. i’ve not really thought of it this way before, but it’s almost as though they’re included as a point of comparison, so you know just how amazing the good songs are. a couple of instances here are the electronic songs, mountains have ears, travels in constants and xmas 1997 – pieces that don’t add anything to music or life. but most of it is still his mark; the best without lyrics to guide the emotional interpretation. i’ll repeat what i’ve said earlier; i think he’s the best guitarist of the past twenty years.
i suspect in this regard that, rather than achieve emotional ecstasy like dirty three manage almost universally, pajo more subtly provides a background soundtrack worth tuning into and out of, to notice the small parts. it’s not a grand narrative, rather a series of brief observational studies.
my ‘relationship’ to pajo is not in the least bit compromised by the things he has done and the people he has collaborated with, and no amount of revisionist history will alter that. this compiled collection is proof of it.