THE GOLDEN PALOMINOS

DEAD INSIDE

  1/  Victim                                     (Blackman,Fier)               5.59
  2/  Belfast                                    (Blackman,Fier)               4.40
  3/  Ride                                       (Blackman,Fier)               4.50
  4/  The Ambitions Are                          (Blackman,Fier,Chandler)      8.23
  5/  Drown                                      (Blackman,Fier)               5.20
  6/  Holy                                       (Blackman,Fier)               4.51
  7/  You Are Never Ready                        (Blackman,Fier)               5.21
  8/  Metal Eye                                  (Blackman,Fier)               6.34
  9/  Thirst                                     (Blackman,Fier)               4.48
  10/ Curses                                     (Blackman,Fier)               5.18

          Created at Greenpoint Studio, Brooklyn, New York, June 1995-June 1996
          Recorded and mixed by Dan Gellert
          Additional recording: Bruce Calder
          Produced/Generated by Anton Fier
          Mastering Engineer: Greg Calbi at Masterdisk
Nicole Blackman: voices/text; Knox Chandler: acoustic, electric, forward and back- ward guitars; Anton Fier: rhythmic and non-rhythmic sound; Bill Laswell (2,4,7,8,10): Fender bass; Nicky Skopelitis (3): envelope filter wah-wah guitar.

          1996 - Restless Records (USA), 7 72907-2 (CD)


REVIEWS :

"I'm in the trunk. My wrists and ankles are tied. Tape over my mouth until it almost covers my nose but I can breathe barely. I must have been here for hours, everything's stiff and my head throbs like someone's drumming on china." This, an excerpt from "Victim", is how the Golden Palominos' latest, Dead Inside, begins. The nine other songs also smother the listner with tales of murder, domination, and decay.

Anton Fier has been the mainstay of the Golden Palominos over its thirteen- year history, working with John Lydon, Michael Stipe, Syd Straw, Matthew Sweet, Bob Mould, and Richard Thompson in the past, and more recently, Lori Carson and Bootsy Collins. He has evolved in style from country rock to slight electronics, and has now moved into the arena of electronic, atmospheric darkness with Dead Inside, a collaboration with New York poet Nicole Blackman.

Fier's music is generally good, although it has boring moments. But what's clear is that the music is only supposed to be a backdrop for Blackman's spoken word performance - often quiet and nonrhythmic. Sometimes the two mesh well, creating a rhythmic balance that keeps the listener's attention; "Belfast" and "Ride", with their A-B-C-B lyrical structure, combined with talking instead of singing, oddly bring to mind any number of MC 900 Ft Jesus tunes. Other times, the delivery or structure miss their mark or are awkward (A small example: "Children are killed because they write an enemy's name backwards on the wall," Blackman enunciates angrily in the verbal barrage of "The Ambitions Are").

Blackman's poetry itself is interesting - realistic doom and gloom throughout. Still, there seems to be little adaptation of the material commonly performed at a reading to the realm of musical expression. Both Fier and Blackman favored a freeform approach to writing the songs, but the music and text seem stuck together incohesively.

Fier and Blackman deserve credit for breaking away and creating something unique with Dead Inside, but the aural black paint they have coated their audience with sometimes wears too thin.

Lee Graham Bridges (courtesy of the Consumable Online website)

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Listening to the Dead Inside album can be a very difficult experience, but it is very important that you do it. People seem to have different responses upon hearing this album for the first time... from moments of speechlessness to the occasional bewildered stare. For people whoget it, though, the emotion behind that first response seems to be almost universal- the feeling that poet/vocalist Nicole Blackman has, somehow, gotten inside one's head and managed to put into language those absolute truths of one's existence in a way which didn't seem possible. It's an intensely personal experience which is often exhilarating and often painful. Blackman's deadpan spoken words manage to capture the essence of that black emptiness most of us feel inside of us. She distills that feeling into poems about victimization, the alienating effects of the single scene and the frequent self-destructiveness of life in the City. That terrified-yet-bored, excited-yet-sick-to-death feeling that is so difficult for the rest of us to put into language, Blackman has somehow succeeded in transcribing with the clarity of a road map etched on the insides of our skulls. On other tracks, she describes with scalpel-sharp precision the core of our psyches- what longing feels like, what desire feels like, what loss feels like. Her words are often desperate but never hopeless. They are stars by which lost travelers can try to navigate when they have no other means of finding home.

The music is spot-on, even by Anton Fier and Bill Laswell's very high standards. ("This is How it Feels," Golden Palominos' 1993 album, was also a groundbreaking release). Amazing things happen in the low-frequency range, from crushing heavy ambiences to driving rhythm. Laswell's bass is the album's heartbeat, providing the rhythmic companion to Blackman's vocals. Industrial (in the original sense of the word) samples and effects add a grating edge to the tracks. From the forboding low-frequency rumbles of "Victim," to the sizzling electric crackles which pierce through "You Are Never Ready," the samples are used often and to good effect. The album plays through like a film score, and listening to it intently can manifest some unforgettable visuals.

Dead Inside was released in 1996. It's taken this long to review, simply because of the difficulty in finding suitable language to convey what a shocking experience this album can be. The material is not for everybody, and it's not at all "easy" to experience. But it's very important that you try.

Pete Darling (courtesy of the Art Damage website.)

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This latest release by the ever-changing Golden Palominos exists in the strange space between dark spoken word performance piece and disturbing ambient/electronic film soundtrack. Think of it as Laurie Anderson's evil twin delivering a wandering travelogue through Ridley Scott's BLADE RUNNER.

Poet/singer Nicole Blackman's powerful words hold center stage on the disc, enhanced and supported by Anton Fier's percussion and production, and some instrumentation by long time GPers Nicky Skopelitis and Bill Laswell. The end result is a powerful and haunting recording, often painfully intense, which explores the shadowy personal stories of Blackman's vivid characters.

On the down side, this is not a disc for light listening or one that works well as background noise, nor will you find yourself humming its primary melodies later. This is not pop music. Instead, DEAD INSIDE is a much more rarified item than any of the Palominos recordings featuring Lori Carson, and probably much more of a niche disc. It demands attention and consideration, and the results are often not pretty. Still, DEAD INSIDE is near perfection within its own unique sphere.

If you are interested in more experimental recordings, fascinated by 'difficult' listening experiences, or taken by the spoken word, this is a rich and rewarding disc that will echo in your thoughts long after its last notes have faded from your ears.

5 out of 5 stars

courtesy of the Amazon.com website