November 20, 2007

IE CD Pieros 010

  1. 1.Innocent in the Garden

  2. 2.I Pay Tax

  3. 3.You Pay Tax

  4. 4.Wouldn't You Like to Know

  5. 5.We Train

  6. 6.Sargeant Zero

  7. 7.Padre Speaks

  8. 8.With Our Killing Costume On

  9. 9.Interrogators

  10. 10.Bus Conductor

  11. 11.I Don't Want to Pay for War

  12. 12.Bowling Along

Tax is a record with a political theme. How much tax we all pay? Usually we think of income tax only, (which incidentally was introduced in England to pay for Napoleonic wars and was and is collected ever since). But we also pay tax on all purchases and services. It is a lot of money and proportion of it goes on war. More in some countries, less in others. In global economy we all pay for all the wars everywhere. Example: Parts of this computer were made in China, by giving Chinese government some of my money I also pay for weapons that Burmese government uses to brutalise it's population.

Now what is war? Bunch of people dressed in costumes (uniforms) killing another bunch of people dressed in different costumes. These costumes enable them to behave in a fashion that would be considered criminal under different circumstances. The military costume wearers do not know anything about the other costume wearers; some of them might be perfectly nice people. But they wear different clothes so "KILL THEM!" Insane or what? And my (and your) tax is paying for this. In concept the record is fairly original in that it treats one theme and it's aspects, a bit like an oratorio on the theme "lament about human stupidity". What can we do? I do not know, Maybe we can start thinking about demanding different approach by our leaders; after all it is our money.

Price € 12.- includes shipping worldwide.

It's cliché to say, but realistically, the idea of paying taxes to a government and how said money becomes allocated is a definite part of the human condition in most societies. Nations have been built, nations have crumbled, revolutions have been sparked, all based on the people paying their government to do things that they may absolutely not support. It is no surprise then that when Aranos takes on this all too familiar topic he does so at a roots level that eschews his sonic manipulations for a set of folk protest songs. Rather than the studio twisted and manipulated approach to music he normally employs, Tax focuses instead on simple folk/blues guitar riffs and "Regular Joe" type lyrics. On "I Pay Tax" he begins by discussing his daily routine over delta blues inspired acoustic guitar before it hits him, just exactly how everything he has done so far is affected by tax. When he says "tax" it is with an entirely appropriate anger and vitriol that expresses disgust in ways digital media rarely does. This loathing carries over as he addresses the listener in the subsequent "You Pay Tax," with a more jazz influenced drum and piano backing track. Inevitably the source of where these taxes goes that becomes the target of criticism is military and war, which is where most of the remaining 2/3rd of the album becomes focused. The stomping, marching percussion of "We Train" outlines just how taxes are used to train the young men and women to fight, and how the same source of funds buys the "(b)est artificial limbs, best wheelchairs, best coffins" for said soldiers. The oddly up-tempo story of "Sargeant Zero" contrasts the odd percussion and piano work with the story of a young criminal who had the choice between jail or military service, and chose the latter. The disc essentially ends with "I Don't Want To Pay For War" which is akin to any and all of the so called "protest songs" of the 1960s, an up-tempo sing along type track that follows along lyrically with what could be expected based on the title. The closing "Bowling Along" track probably resembles what most would expect from Aranos based on previous output, a 11 minute piece of droney, electronically manipulated instrumentation that is quiet and meditative. Throughout the disc, Aranos is more than happy to offer his take on various forms of roots music, "With Our Killing Costume On" resembles an Alpine drinking song that everyone in the bar could be singing along to if its lyrics were just a bit different, and the homily like vocals of "Padre Speaks" explores the connection between taxes and the church over a liturgical backing of harpsichord and muted acoustic guitar. The trite adage about the only guarantees in life being "death and taxes" is seemingly an eternal truth that isn't going anywhere, and thus this album is one that is both timeless and national. Conceptually, I'm sure taxes, war, and the connection between the two will be issues of social concern a hundred years from now, and I'm sure this album will feel just as relevant then as it does now. - Creaig Dunton, Brainwashed.

Like a soundtrack to a Thirties musical, "Tax" explores a simple subject from many angles, in tones both accusatory and whimsical. Czech violinist Aranos has performed with Nurse With Wound, among others, and that dark ambient vibe is present, always, but never overstates itself. By combining that, klezmer and other nourish, carnivalesque colors, this is a set that confronts the many ways in which we pay for our lives, and how we cope with that public and psychic debt. The Yiddish influence is most prominent in tracks like "Bus Conductor" and the stunning "Sargeant zero," which, with its Motown bass line, manages to be a danceable dirge, and "With Our Killing Costume On," another amazing tune fueled by an almost whimsical account of atrocities. Other highlights include the instrumental shuffle of "Innocent in the Garden," the slow, dirge-like blues of "I Pay Tax," "You Pay Tax," a jaunty, Tom Waits-like show tune, and "Wouldn't You Like To Know," and its muted noir and vocals meant to be distant, disorienting, and overheard. The final track, "Bowling Long," is a ten minute plus dark ambient dirge, which brings sounds and moods to the forefront which had been lurking throughout the set. With the ever-present violin and piano, Aranos makes music that sounds ancient and distant, but oddly present and visceral. "Tax" is a brilliant, poignant record full of little human moments of frailty and genius. 9/10 -- Mike Wood, Foxy Digitalis

Capitalism. The word provokes serious political debate. The kind that is best avoided in the company of surly foreign nationals at your local watering hole. Nevertheless, the topic has made for some great anti-establishment songwriting, even if it is hackneyed and polemic these days. Or is it? It's safe to say that 21st Century America wasn't deceived for the first time when the phrase "fuzzy math" driveled from our fearless leaders' lips in 2000. See, today's free market economy has plenty of new virtues. Like rewarding corporate America for disguising our sweatshop textile dependency with arrogant globalization tactics. Like utilizing today's trade programs to exploit cheap labor abroad. Meanwhile, tell folks in Detroit that unemployment is better now than in the 1980s and you might find yourself walking away backwards...very slowly. Czechoslovakian musician Aranos would probably agree that the vices of our socio-economic makeup that really hit home may never really change. Since maniacal religious zealots coined the term "tithes", man has been paying taxes for centuries. And while some of us today are plagued with guessing what an acceptable expense to our Schedule C is, others may have to make up their numbers (luckily, Big Brother isn't cracking down on you service industry folks yet). Whatever your method of sharing beans with the man, hopefully you come out ahead. If not, G Dubs has your back with a little last-year-in-office ass-kissing. If the IRS happens to find you by the balls, so to speak, you have every right to be pissed, knowing full well where your hard-earned tax dollars are being spent (50 percent, per this little tidbit of happy carbon footprint times). Americans should realize that pleads for tax money better spent are also shared with other developed countries of the world. Aranos (Petr Vatl) has written an album about taxes that is more cynical than angst-riddled. In fact, Tax seems to cover every possible facet of ridicule in the conception of objectionable tax spending. A concept album this relevant to the events of the turn of the 21st Century is not to be missed. "Innocent in the Garden" begins with a colorful glimpse at the musicianship of Bohemian-born Aranos (pronounced aranyosh). The multi-instrumentalist employs violin at the centerpiece of the album, while the sounds of church organs, upright bass, and trumpet also comprise his miniature orchestra. The listener's attention is immediately demanded by the soulful sound of a genuine, gypsy-folk music. The beauty lying therein is completely immeasurable to the newer artists of recent times that pursue a modern take on said genre. (I just sneezed and it sounded like 'Gogol Bordello'.) In the first few tracks, "I Pay Tax" and "You Pay Tax", the idea of paying taxes is minimized by class, binding society together under a simple cause. The rolling tones of a double bass segue to sounds of street corner a capella on "Wouldn't You Like to Know". By the fourth track, Tax is going places, and it's getting deeper in both cynicism and bass. As horns and pianos weave in and out, a hypnotic loop is created that practically disguises the message. Seems negligible, but the song itself personifies our most overlooked problem: our inability to recognize the obvious. We are funding the war that most of us protest. Aranos is at his best when the satire is not only lyrical, but also plays through musically. The track, "With Our Killing Costumes On", sounds silly as the title suggests. While the glissandi slides of violin are prominent in this number, the sound, oddly enough, is reminiscent to a chase scene from Looney Tunes cartoons, circa Bugs Bunny vs. Elmer Fudd era. The ridicule continues with the maddening sound of wood blocks and lyrics like "what fun, what fun, what fun, holding a loaded gun..." Ironically enough, Elmer Fudds' role was "hunting wabbits", but he usually ended up only injuring himself. In "Padre Speaks", Aranos leads a ceremony awkward enough to make most altar boys cringe. As the organ bellows in the background, it is obvious the cynicism is directed towards the Catholic Church. His sermon pokes fun at soldiers, reminding them that God loves them all, despite the senseless nature of tasks required by their jobs. The closing of this mock homily is priceless: "Give us today our ammunition, to our enemies we'll bring attrition, deliver us from hesitation, victory to our glorious nation!" The lyrical satire in Tax is precious, but the music itself should not be overheard. "Bus Conductor", this album's most engaging track, is thick in melodrama like an overcast Seattle. Casually sung lyrics about an innocent protagonist underscore the common sense of the concept that tax money is funding a war that cannot be won. The dynamics of voice and violin clash beautifully, and are taught by the shrieking quills to the bowed uprights' waltz; a classy way of keeping the listener listening. The effect is the musical equivalent of someone grabbing you and screaming, "Not only is war stupid, but you're helping pay for it, stupid". But everyone knows this and accepts it, and thus, the stunning violin has reached its apex, and slows to a heartbreaking close. It would seem hands are tied when it comes to tax spending, so, what is the answer? The ink from drawing an anarchy symbol on my wrist has faded away, too. Capitalism might always be our double-edged sword of inseparable economic class. And if you don't want to fight anymore, then you can either play along or take the plunge. Or, like Aranos, you can continue to resist and sleep better knowing that the answer is knowledge, and the key is continually sharing it with those who may be unaware. - (8.5/10) - June Swoons, Nada Mucho

© 1996-2011 Brainwashed Inc.

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