Category: Zak Sally

Review: Zak Sally, Zak Sally’s Fear Of Song

Zak Sally, Zak Sally’s Fear Of Song
(La Mano 21)

Zak Sally shifted his attention largely to graphic art after leaving Duluth slowcore trio Low in 2005, focusing on writing and drawing Recidivist, Sammy The Mouse, and the forthcoming Like A Dog, as well as running the small press La Mano 21, which releases books by artists like John Porcellino and William Schaff. While often dreamlike and full of wild invention, Sally’s comics also reveal his introspective and insecure side, and it wouldn’t be surprising to anyone familiar with them that he’s kept a full-fledged return to music at arm’s length, feeling hesitant despite his success with Low. Still, he’s kept a toe in that world via one-off gallery performances with bands like White Map, an unforgettably weird noise-rock duo in which he straps a gigantic loudspeaker to his head and emits electronic squawks; see below for a short video clip. But over time, he began working on music again in earnest, building up an album’s worth of material on his own, in his basement, performing all the instruments himself and producing with the help of Crazy Beast Studio’s Ben Durrant. Fear Of Song is clearly a very personal album, with the same raw, soul-baring openness he shows in Recidivist evident on the title song and in lines like, “If nobody hears us, then how do they know who to blame?” Sonically, it definitively shows that Alan Sparhawk wasn’t the only good songwriter in Low. Fear Of Song pushes the boundaries of the feedback-laced slowcore that Low was just beginning to explore on The Great Destroyer, Sally’s last album with that band, though not to the extent of the honking craziness of White Map. Sub Pop Records just released a 7-inch single of the song “Why We Hide,” but Sally is releasing the full album himself via La Mano in a handmade limited edition. (To raise the funds to do so, he recently sold the original painting he did for Great Destroyer on eBay.) He’ll perform at a combination La Mano benefit and CD-release show at Eclipse Records tonight with another of his bands, the formidably named TOGPTFFSOTWOTERATSYOA, a trio with Steel Pole Bathtub’s Dale Flattum and Cows/TVBC drummer Freddy Votel whose set list is hidden in its monstrous acronym: “Three Old Guys Play The First Five Songs Off The Wipers’ Over The Edge Record And The Song ‘Youth Of America.’”

Grade: B

White Map performs on a floating platform on the Mississippi River at the 2009 Art-A-Whirl Festival:

Originally published on A.V. Club Twin Cities.

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