David Pajo's legacy as Papa M/Aerial M/M Is the Thirteenth Letter/M is now much easier to grapple with thanks to Drag City's collection of singles released under various monikers by various labels. Sounding something like a more organic Tortoise, Pajo layers different simple parts onto deceptively simple melodies, constantly moving the music forward but doing it in a completely unhurried fashion. The first four tracks are just guitars, bass, and drums (as are most of the tunes, for that matter). The fifth track, on the other hand, starts with a simple generated rhythm, bubbly synth, and some kind of triggered flute sound. This could almost be the work of another artist, until the guitar parts start and you can hear the same processes at work but used in a slightly different way. The cover of the Misfits' "Last Caress" is the only track with vocals and is followed by a tune with about five minutes of slamming techno beats before giving way to the type of guitar/bass drift that comprises most of the rest of the album. These tunes interrupt the flow of the album a bit, but seem like necessary inclusions for the project. Pajo played nearly everything on this album, performing with a band on only a few tunes, like the totally unnecessary albeit wonderful instrumental version of "Turn Turn Turn," an 8 a.m. studio take whose only directive was "play until the tape runs out." The funny thing is how well this cover version fits in with Pajo's relaxing theme and variations ethic. Aside from the aforementioned stylistic deviations, this is a great set of low-key instrumentals that hang together quite well despite covering a five-year period.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Sean Westergaard