Philip E Karnats Pleasesuite

[Good; 2006]

Styles: take every unfathomable idea a rock musician has ever had pop into her/his head, and put it to tape
Others: Folk Implosion circa {Kids} soundtrack, Enon, The Unicorns

“Push the little daisies and make them come up,” a Ween lyric, confused the living snot out of me growing up. Assuming it was a drug reference, I shelved it away in the ol’ mental file cabinet. Now, the statement again flashes through my mind like a Web site banner because it perfectly sums up my evaluation of Pleasesuite. Namely, I don’t quite understand it or know what to think of it.

Music-wise a complete schitzophrenic, Karnats sounds strangely comfortable changing outfits, makeup, shoes, and even undergarments every few minutes. “Too Much To Chew” immerses us in his identity crisis right away with a so-smooth-it’s-pronounced-schmoov trip-hop groove and two voices, one singing, one prattling as if chatting it up on a cell phone. This is a very encouraging introduction to his twisted lair. Next, “Not Sold But Disowned” treats us to huffing, puffing synth effects that flower into another head-nodding beat and a transparent tarp of barely noticeable guitar. “Early Bird Cartoons” takes the next Saturday-morning slot and side-steps into a rock-pop motif, that of maddeningly easy bass lines — keep that ‘G’ comin’ all day long baby! — and more manageable vocals. But there’s a great deal of discord afoot as well, the guitars crackling through the entire number as if the rest of the song didn’t exist.

From this point on, Pleasesuite continues to flaunt furnishings you simply won’t hear on most albums. Look for Tom Waits uttering trip-speak over a campfire (“...and Still it’s Beautiful”), cluttered synth-pop (“y”), Bowie-ish vocals fed through a wood chipper and sprinkled over cacophonous arrangements of distorted bass and guitar (“Spinning Lids (On a Holiday Retreat Bench)”), acoustic confessionals (“Smoke + Sediment”) and ... well, you get the idea.

A sucker for such random swirls of sound, this reporter is hesitant to allot such a teetering tugboat a review that would connote absolute greatness. But know this: Karnats, if Pleasesuite is any indication, can do it all, and pull it off reasonably well. Before you skip to the next review, think about this distinction for a moment and how few fit its qualifications. Taking on such an intimidatingly ambitious project and surviving is one of the early stages of becoming truly noteworthy. Karnats has taken his first step...

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