Larkin Grimm | Parplar | Review

Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange | Mark S. Tucker

Many people study zen or meditate and then babble about it, but few ever live it.

Larkin Grimm is one of those few, though I've no idea if she ever
cracked open a book or entered a zendo. She has, however, been initiated in
shamanic practice and led a life that reads like something from the annals
of Ikkyu. While studying at Yale, she fled the suffocating pretense of
academe before it boiled her brain and liquidated her nerves. Her parents
were cultist hippies and her non-atomic upbringing has installed the woman
with a sharp sense of the sardonic, always the trait of observant
intelligence. To this day, she's had no fixed address and prefers living in
the woods, but has recruited the attentions and friendships of such
musicians as Devendra Banhart and Spires That In The Sunset Rise (one of my
fave new prog groups), with whom she's shared bills.

The reason's not hard to see. For someone who got serious about the musical
arts only four years ago, the depth of her powers are heady. The promo lit
claims Grimm sounds like a woman in "full orgasmic release", unfortunately a
fairly tatty backhanded compliment and indicative of the anonymous label
scribe's sexual inexperience. What she does bring to the table is, among
many things, what I and others had hoped Klaus Nomi would have manifested
after his 70s televisional debut—on In Concert, Don Kirschner's Rock
Farrago, or something like that—but never followed up on, his solo release a
disappointment. Grimm has a gift for falsetto dripping with sarcasm and
earthy naiveté, even arch intent, as when Airlord and Pictures adopted the
practice way back when, or even Uriah Heep for that matter. It's a
theatrically delightful motif strongly recalling The Lollipop Guild in The
Wizard of Oz, occurring with frequency and investing her work with a
full-blooded motif rather than novelty.

There's a warm and experienced intimacy in cuts like Blond and Golden Johns
unsettling for its confidence in disclosing the iron fist in the velvet
glove, purring while showing fangs. Listening to it, one understands how the
Sirens lured their victims to doom despite the clear dangers present.
Grimm's backing band fully understands the blend of honey and vinegar,
presenting an innocent toybox seriality counterpointed by a very nervous
mosquitoey violin. All through Parplar runs the truth to the proposition
that one must go through the world's shit, not just the deceptive gifts, in
order to truly understand it. Grimm understands the world very well indeed,
and her explication deserves better documentation. The recording here is
good, certainly good enough to warrant the purchase just to obtain such
unusual art, but it needs to be as clear and precise as Grimm's levels-deep
acuity: the matrix is often just as important as the diamond.

Mark S. Tucker