I was there when The Elephantmen recorded this, on the 18th of July, 2004 at the Wellington, NZ bar they call Happy; The Elephantmen very quickly became one of my favourite bands. I was contributing to another publication at the time, and about them I wrote:
The Elephantmen are no ordinary band. They out there in the hinterland... lurking roun' the fringes of rock and jazz; and they def'nittly gone a bit feral. They're hairy but they're top musicians; they can play the shit outta their axes and they got no shortage of chops. But don't be afraid - this ain't no lame fusion thing. These boys play with all the fire of post-rock's extreme-noise-terror, the angular sonic ebullience of the greatest New-York-1978 No Wave outfits, and the funk of a broke-ass steamroller. To this melange add the vocals of Chris Palmer, who sings like a fallen angel half the way through a bottle of tequila. But crucially, they's doin' it with the improvising grace of three guys talkin' their own very peculiar language. If you gonna start me namecheckin' then I gotta say equal parts Captain Beefheart's ?Trout Mask Replica? and Jeff Buckley or sommat or even Tim Buckley and then some freakish No Wave ensemble like DNA or the first Golden Palominos LP. For my pick this is easily the best live band around at the moment and you don't want to pass up a chance to see them hollerin' live.
Now finally -- after almost-three years -- this artefact has appeared and I have to report that it?s even better than I remember, greater than I had dare hope it would be, and well worth the wait. My comparisons stand true; with the benefit of hindsight, it?s my duty to say that if anything Chris Palmer?s vocals are more akin to a deranged Jeff Buckley, an utterly demented Arthur Brown, a psychotic Tiny Tim, a Christian Vander with several gallons of Owsley?s finest Love Potion #25 in his gullet and resorting to belching contrapunctually in order to get his point across.
This is avant-rock living-up to its promise. The loud, fast numbers like ?I Am Mother? are loud, fast, and belligerent with nary a trace of any kind of indulgence; Palmer?s got some songs to sing, and he?s gonna sing them, and his band?s gonna pummel along behind him with their furious, ugly racket. But it might just be the more extended, minor-key tracks which anchor the centre of album -- ?Jesus Loves You But Not Like That? and ?Campervan? -- which showcase -- in spite of their brusque, oblique bluster -- the lyrical, melodic, human vulnerability at the eye of their hurricane of noise. Toward the end of the ultimate and title track Palmer recites an increasingly agitated free-associative laundry-list of pop-cultural irritations. This climaxes with him bellowing ?Paris in the spring!? over and over; like the original Elephant Man John Merrick, as portrayed in David Lynch?s film, he could be howling ?I am not an animal! I am a human being! I...am...a...man!? Yes, The Elephantmen sing the blues like no other. 9/10 -- Stephen Clover (8 May, 2007)
released October 25, 2012
Chris Palmer - guitar, vocals
Craig Taylor - bass, vocals
Rick Cranson - drums