Every bit as raw as PJ Harveys Rid of Me
The second in a planned series of three albums, Postulate II takes up where the previous album left off, with one-woman band Lauren K. Newman tackling rough, inspiring grunge/alt-rock and readily making it into her own statement of purpose. Kicking off with Postulate I Newman sounds as strong as ever, her vocals a speak-sing statement of purpose that confronts a person, or a situation, with wry anger. Its a good setting of tone for the entire album
Often its a subtle touch that proves to be the key emotional hook for a song, as with how Fractured Sun, Fractured Heart ends with her vocals repeating For so long over soft piano as the rest of the music falls away gently, the understated synth orchestration on Facts That Frustate and Attract, or the appearance of quiet chimes during the break on the all-instrumental Systematic Minimalism. Newmans ear for deftly inspirational performances hasnt left her eitherOn My Back in the June Night has a gorgeous piano melody that lifts the brisk riffing and anthemic singing even more, while Sarahs straight ahead crunch and calmer moments on the verse make for a secret highlight.
The more we hear from Lauren K. Newman
the more impressed we are. Although her sound is completely different, Newmans overall approach reminds us very much of Elizabeth Sharp of Ill Ease. Both ladies are proficient multi-instrumentalists who can really smash at their drum kits
and both are also creating music that doesnt fit into easily defined, predictable categories. There are few ladies we can think of whose one-woman recordings rival the power and energy of all-guy bands. Postulate II certainly proves that women can crank it out with as much macho machismo as men. But while there is energy and passion in the playing, it is the songs themselves that make this album such a rewarding spin. At this point in time, Laurens music is simply too intelligent and difficult for most listeners. Although this album kicks some mighty butt, you can be sure there wont be any hit songs sliding off this little platter. The songs are just too peculiar and odd. A resounding artistic success, Postulate II proves that there are still many unchartered territories in the world of music. Thrilling compositions include On My Back in the June Night, Systematic Minimalism, Stragegem, and Sarah. Great stuff, recommended
one constant throughout the album is solid: creative and dramatic drumming. Cymbal crashes team up with piano chords to give songs like Fractured Sun, Fractured Heart the melodrama of a classical piece. And even what seem like the most ordinary moments on the album lie on an oil well of difficult triplets and rhythmical intricacies. The definitive LKN recording is yet to come, but Postulate II more clearly than ever displays the musical riches at this inimitable womans disposal.
Most fans of LKN (Lauren K. Newmans self-imposed acronym) fell in love with her live show. To complement this on-stage performance, LKN also releases her music in album form about once a year, most recently with Postulate II. The CD is not a listening album per se; rather it comes off as a voyeuristic glimpse into LKNs own personal musical journey. There appears to be no real destinationthe journey is its own reward.
LKNs roots (and her heart) are in drumming, and everything on Postulate II begins and ends with drums. The songwriting, the melodies, the piano and guitar are all sacrificed to some degree, but the tradeoff is some amazing drum work and an overall primordial feel, as the most primal of instruments takes the drivers seat.
The dynamics on Postulate II are simple: the songs start strong, increase in intensity, and promptly come to an end.
the eight song EP features Newman absolutely brutalizing her poor poor guitar. Its a filthy mix of hard rock drumming, breathy Kim Gordon vocals, and enough shredding axemanship to put Yngwie Malmsteen to shame. Sorry, thats Yngwie Fucking Malmsteen, my mistake. But Newman might disagree, heres what her blog says about the EP:
The songs of the Phratry EP were tracked and mixed at home on entry level sub par audio recording gear. However, I had at my disposal a great sounding room, my beloved frankenstein drumkit, my EGC custom guitar, a little 15 watt fender amp, the radness of the 1204 console and the Kramer bass. The EP is humble and crunchy. In the future I plan to deliver better material
Way to sell it. The EP will be available exclusively with the vinyl re-release of her 2007 album Postulate II, and will be out on the 28th of this month
closer to post and (DC-esque) math-rock influences than the stuff of large-haired 80s characters. Essentially, though, the sum total of her virtuosity is impossible to categorize with any neatness; not surprising considering that there hasnt been a long line of predecessors bearing the kind of armory Newman has at her musical disposal. Similarly proficient as a drummer, and evidently more than capable of also handling bass and piano duties, its rare to find such talent in the underground outside of circles traced by self-indulgent types like Lightning Bolt and Hella. LKN stands out from such company, however, when the quality of her songwriting manages to compete with the performances, a feat achieved most evidently during Phratryavailable exclusively with purchase of the vinyl re-release of 2007 album Postulate IIon 7111819. And while Newmans vocal prowess isnt quite up to par with her playing ability, the singing nevertheless demonstrates predictably impressive diversity, taking the form of mood-suiting wails on 7111819. Perhaps slightly less tasteful is the sudden reappearance of the spirit of Stevie V right at the end but, hey, when you can shred that hard its gotta be difficult holding back for too long!
integrity. In most cases, songwriters and bands want to craft their sound to appeal to a specific segment of the population. And in doing so, they limit themselves to the wealth of possibilities that the world offers. Lauren K. Newman is a pure and powerful exception to norms and rules in the world of music. Although most likely not on purpose, Phratry EP most certainly lacks commercial appeal. After all, how many listeners can deal with the fact that the EP opens with a violent blast of psychedelic guitar
while ending with a slow and methodical piano instrumental
? Although she plays with others in concert performances, on her recordings Lauren sings and plays everything herself. Shes an intense whirlwind of sounds and ideas. Her songs have a nice, loose feel
a far cry from the majority of super polished recordings in the twenty-first century. (The press release states the obvious:
perfection is boring.). Although she is playing for a very small audience, our guess is that Lauren will be an artist whose influenceover timewill be enormous. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)