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The term "supergroup" is overrated and stale. It drums up attention for a band that in most respects is no different than any other out there; except the members have already cemented their status in the music world. Collaboration is a much better word. It evokes the idea of a partnership designed to create something for the greater good, for something beyond the self. It isn't a see-through ploy by suits. A collaboration is for the art.

Pfarmers is a collaboration consisting of three well rounded musicians: Danny Seim (Menomena, Lackthereof), Bryan Devendorf (The National), and Dave Nelson (David Byrne & St. Vincent, Sufjan Stevens). For this project, the three artists created a beautiful, 7-track album. Pfarmers came about when Byan and Danny were talking backstage at a festival and Bryan revealed to Danny "some severly damaged, synth-affected drumbeats he had recorded with his friend Dave." Conceptually, the album deals with personal fears. As Danny explains, "The record is about a dream I had where I'm reluctantly accepting a fear of drowning by focusing on being reincarnated as a giant Gunnera plant, which thrive on the banks of rivers (specifically the Jordan River i.e. the Biblical promised land) after I paint myself gold and sink to the bottom like the El Dorado of South American folklore."

With all this in mind, it is best to take a brief look at the 7 tracks that compose Gunnera.

'Benthos' slowly builds with electronic atmospherics and light pulsing horns, there are no lyrics. There is a lonely trumpet that is a peaceful wake up call to a world that is weary. This is where the scene is set. 'You Shall Know The Spirit' has a pulsing bass line and some of those "damaged" drum beats. The vocals sound a little weathered. This song gracefully layers a softened driving beat and synths and atmospherics. "When the Spirit moves inside of me" is sung more as self assurance than a warning to others.

'Work For Me' has some tribal sounding percussion with a slinking bass riff. Lines like, "Tame the demons/ pay the bills/ just save the work for me" and the repeating chorus "How will I know when there's love in the room?" is poetry that gets the listener thinking. There's also a great fuzzed out guitar riff that would make Johnny Greenwood melt.

'El Dorado' has more of new wave vibe with the bass synths and echoing guitars. The drums and haunting vocals dominate the song. "My love's over the hill/ My head's the hill" is a nightmarish landscape come to life.

'The Ol' River Gang' opens with a dark synth line and heavy drum tech gets the blood pumping. The song also has distorted guitar riff that is equal parts '60s surf rock and post-punk. This track encapsulates that fear of drowning, "Water/ filling up my lungs."

'How To Build A Tube' sonically delves into Animal Collective's territory of pop beats, harmonies, and twisting electronics to their most organic extremes. This song is bright and looks at possible solutions to prevent drowning when you have no choice but to sink into the abyss.

'Promised Land', for being the final song, opens like a sunrise. This song, in the story of the narrator, is a new beginning. The vocals are sung with tenderness and the music has a buzz runing thorugh, it knows the end is not the last chapter. Over a tender, simple key line, the opening line, "Pick my suit up from the dry cleaners now/ I am goin' back to the promised land" is sung. And while there is talk of heaven, there is also mention of living in a half-way home.

There is an excitement and freshness sown into this album. Sonically the album is engaging and intriguing, but that's only the first layer. The lyrics are poetry, each word there on purpose, just like each note and beat. This album is not for the faint of heart. If you are looking for 2 minute songs perfect for shuffling into other mixes, this may not be for you. These songs, while great on their own, are meant to be played with one another. Gunnera is a sign that the album isn't dead. There are sonic threads that tie this album together and only cement the idea that each song is a movement, connected yet independent of one another. The boys of Pfarmers have made a special album that shows experimentation and most importantly, collaboration, breathes fresh life into art.

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