Release Date: Sep 11, 2012
Genre(s): Indie, Pop/Rock, Indie Rock
Record label: 4AD
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A May-December one-off by David Byrne and Annie "St. Vincent" Clark, this LP is like a special-mention science-fair project: two brainy kids speaking in tongues that are fascinating even when they're hard to follow. Working with a brass band and tandem guitars, the duo trade vocals, delivering hiccuping phoneme and wry kickers over shifty programmed beats.
It's not surprising that David Byrne and St. Vincent's Annie Clark were drawn to work together. While they're hardly sound-alikes, they are both keen but somewhat detached observers of the human condition who make music that's equally cerebral and passionate. However, it is somewhat surprising to learn that they created their collaboration Love This Giant largely online, meeting in the studio together with their team of musicians and producers a handful of times during the album's three-year gestation period, because they're on such a harmonious wavelength throughout it.
Horns have had a chequered history. When William Booth set up the Salvation Army in 1865 he chose brass bands as a way of reaching out to the yoot, given how damn cool they were at the time. But beyond Miles Davis, Motown and Mark Ronson circa 2006, parping has rarely sounded ‘of its time’. The saxophone, in particular, has been co-opted time and again by greasy crooners to soundtrack your mum slow-dancing, or by men with ponytails jiggy-jiggying in low-budget pornos.So naturally, when Talking Heads leader David Byrne and Annie Clark (aka St Vincent) decided to collaborate, they set themselves certain parameters: they would work only with brass, with producer John Congleton adding programmed percussion later.
Irrevocably intertwined, it’s fun to play “spot the influences.” However, the album’s greatest moments stem from ideas that wouldn’t be at home in either artist’s solo efforts. Byrnes shines on twisted calypso song “The One Who Broke Your Heart,” reveling a funk trekked in from backing band the Dap-Kings. Meanwhile, origami-like opening track “Who” sandwiches an aggressive duet among its whirlwind of guitars, both musicians singing as though having the time of their lives.
Collaborations. Sometimes they work, other times they don’t. More often than not, one artist outshines the other, but in the case of Talking Head’s David Byrne and St. Vincent’s Annie Clark it’s more of a synchronicity. Both artists possess dominant, distinctive musical personalities that ….
Even if it was simply a means to defend against whines of "artsiness", the Talking Heads frontman and the multi?instrumentalist Annie Clark's decision to build their collaboration – their first and, let's hope, not last record together – from a brass band up was inspired. It makes for a consistently delicious contrast between the unruliness of sound (much of the happy horn skronking is thanks to Afrobeat ensemble Antibalas and funk royalty the Dap-Kings) and the cool affectlessness of both their voices as every song bursts with the interplay of these two eccentrics' ideas. .
If there’s a lesson to be learned from the David Byrne-St. Vincent joint production Love This Giant, it’s that collaboration is the sincerest form of flattery. The patron saint du jour for this generation of art-minded indies, Byrne has been an in-demand special guest star, including a cameo with Arcade Fire and a charity compilation track with Dirty Projectors, the most obvious heirs to the head Talking Head’s legacy.
Has there been a more hyped collaboration album in recent memory than Love This Giant? Post-punk progenitor, avant-rockist, idiosyncratic genius David Byrne has partnered with Annie Clark (stage name St. Vincent), one of the best guitarists of this era on the heels of what many say is the best album of last year. Beyond a few seemingly inconsequential similarities—both are New Yorkers, both are musical auteurs, both are beloved by a cult-like legion of followers, it’s hard to think that the angry, introspective guitar-virtuoso would have much in common with the man who sang about buildings and food and introduced African rhythms to punk.
DAVID BYRNE & ST. VINCENT play the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on September 20. See listing. Rating: NNNN When word first spread that David Byrne and St. Vincent were collaborating on a brass band album, we got very excited about the idea of the two lovable weirdos getting together in the studio. We ….
All the best male-female pop partnerships teasingly hint at romance, and this collaboration between David Byrne and Annie Clark, aka St Vincent, is no exception. Sometimes it's on the surface, in the seductive push and pull of their voices in Lazarus; sometimes it's subtler, buried in the tantalising intermingling of songwriting limbs. When Ice Age, sung by Clark, begins to sound like a Talking Heads song, or her guitar flickers across Who, you get the peculiar sensation they are wearing each other's clothes.
Collaborative records aren’t supposed to be good, history has emphatically taught us this. From Loutallica to that time the Sugababes and Girls Aloud obliterated ‘Walk This Way’, combinations that looked promising when scrawled on your school pencil case or an initial press release have turned out disastrously. Admittedly Watch The Throne was decent enough but by the time it was released, the world had only just forgiven Jay-Z for his two albums with R Kelly.
These things always seem like such a good idea on paper, don’t they? A collaboration between two iconoclasts who—though hailing from different generations—share a propensity for working subversive ideas into the peripheries of pop music is an exciting prospect, yes? Of course it is. But, as is often the case with meetings of such high-profile artistic minds, the results are almost always doomed to be disappointing. Either the artists retain too much of their individual personality—result: an off-balance clutch of sonic signifiers that never gel—or they slough off too much of what their trademark sounds—result: songs that don’t sound a thing like the artists whose name got you excited about this thing in the first place.
Twenty-six years ago, David Byrne stood from the silver screen in True Stories and asked, “What time is it? No time to look back.” It’s a short mantra that goes a long way in describing the 60-year-old songwriter, whose celebrated canon of work runs parallel to no one. Whether amid the Talking Heads or alongside collaborators like Brian Eno, Byrne exhibits this pioneering attitude that’s uncanny yet exigent. He’s a creative steam engine that’s always moving on a track that never ends.
In David Byrne’s new book How Music Works, he states how musical creation does not follow the romantic notion of a madman’s libido driving him to create an artistic production in an explosive ecstasy of passion. Instead, Byrne offers a slight turn from this notion: “I believe that we unconsciously and instinctively make work to fit preexisting formats. ” “Passion” still exists in the music, but the emotions are filled into a form best suited for the particular time or place.
David Byrne & St. VincentLove This Giant[4AD / Todo Mundo; 2012]By Brendan Frank; September 12, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetA lot of collaborative projects arise from a mutual appreciation amongst their contributors. Others assume the spirit of a mentor/pupil relationship. David Byrne and Annie Clark (penname: St.
One has to wonder if Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) felt a little in awe of David Byrne, if it was never in the plans for this record to be a 50/50 partnership, or if Byrne's persona is simply so well defined at this point that it would overshadow most artists. In any case, the mixture here leans heavily on Byrne, which is certainly not a bad thing, but Love This Giant doesn't take full advantage of Clark's guitar prowess or hypnotic voice.
This past June, the first song we heard from David Byrne and St. Vincent's collaborative project was titled "Who". With its firm acoustic strumming, clear delineation of two vocal parts, and repetition of the word "who?" at the beginning of each line, it recalled one of Byrne's best duets: his collaboration with Tejano pop star Selena on the slinky, slow-burning 1995 song "God's Child".
Employing the same form-filling record-by-mail system that produced his recent collaboration with Brian Eno, David Byrne embarks on his latest venture with help from St. Vincent (née Annie Clark), a less accomplished artist than both Byrne and Eno, but one who’s capable of lending him some modern relevance. Their partnership likely has something to do with the product of his last creative alliance, the cast-of-thousands Love Lies Here, developed with Fatboy Slim, which told the story of Imelda Marcos through a patchwork assemblage of female vocalists.
The spiraling, precocious collaboration of David Byrne and Annie Clark couldn't be better bookended. "Who" opens Love This Giant with a spark of horns that slides into the moody and aggressive back and forth of Byrne's contorted pop sensibilities and Clark's detached vocals. "Outside of Space & Time" closes with an epic love song extending the introverted microcosm of emotion into a sprawling combustion of universal relation.
Back when Talking Heads were taking the world by storm, David Byrne and co. ensured that their music was taken as a whole: respective albums that one could embrace and fall in love with. A few twenty years later, St. Vincent’s Annie Clark shares in the same joy and was famously dubbed an art rock musician, just like Byrne always was and is.
Love This Giant—a record better than it had any right to be—is a synthesis of brass and two pointy songwriters. St. Vincent‘s Annie Clark and David Byrne write knotty, intricate songs over arrangements that try so hard to be pretty but edge away at the last minute. Call this the Watch The Throne of indie songwriters: Byrne and Clark complement each other, playing off of the other’s persona.
A perfect cerebral pop pairing: brass-led, but with a stylish, under-your-skin groove. Jude Clarke 2012 The prospect of a collaboration between David Byrne and St Vincent’s Annie Clark is an enticing one. Byrne, one of the late 20th century’s most artful musical alchemists – from Talking Heads and on through his solo music, film, art and theatrical works – meets a woman feted as much for the ingenuity of her arrangements as for her swoon of a voice.
Ignore the prosthetically-enhanced faces on Love This Giant's cover, if you can – the real visual synecdoche for this album lies inside the gatefold of the vinyl edition. There St. Vincent's Annie Clark faces Byrne, she on the left and he on the right: each shorn of all hair (including eyebrows), eyes closed, mouths partially open as if singing softly.
“Love This Giant” (4AD/Todo Mundo). Here are the names of the arrangers who helped realize the brass and reeds on “Love This Giant,” the joint album by David Byrne and Annie Clark (who performs as St. Vincent): Tony Finno, Kelly Pratt, Lenny Pickett and Ken Thomson. Mr. Byrne and Ms. Clark ….
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