Album Reviews

Tracy + The Plastics – Culture For Pigeon

(Too Pure) UK release date: 26 September 2005

If you’ve recently been thinking about the Lesbian Creature as constantly disappearing, and/or being something as remembered past and never given the actual now, then it’s a safe bet that Culture for Pigeon is for you.

If however, you have no idea what a Lesbian Creature is, let alone whether or not it is constantly disappearing, don’t run and hide just yet – Tracy + The Plastics may well be pretentious but there are some redeeming features to be found on this ambitious album.

Tracy + The Plastics is a �band’ that features just one person: lesbian feminist video maker Wynne Greenwood. When playing live, Greenwood takes on the guise of frontwoman Tracy, whilst the other members (also played by her) are represented by projections. Culture for Pigeon is essentially a DVD which features short films by Greenwood – the album itself is music created for Wynne’s films.

The band dynamic is explained through the piece entitled We hear Swooping Guitars. Again, Greenwood plays all three parts, and to be perfectly honest it is fairly tricky to work out whether or not the film is a parody of how bands work, or whether it is just horribly self-important. The filmmaking is rudimentary at best, while the rhetoric is clouded with the kind of drawl you might expect from a terminally stoned beach bum circa 1967, but not from a cutting edge and painfully hip feminist artist.

The music that soundtracks the films (the other piece being Just The Beginning Of Something) initially sounds simplistic and poorly played. If you quickly flip the disc over, the DVD becomes a CD, and suddenly Tracy + the Plastics start to make a little bit more sense.

If the DVD took you in, you might well believe that the music that Tracy and her cohorts produce was little more that some feebly arranged electro drum beats and some random notes jabbed out on a keyboard. However, it soon becomes clear that Wynne can produce lo-fi electro pop that can easily compete with the likes of Le Tigre (Le Tigre’s JD appears on this album assisting with drumbeats and bass parts).

There are some pretty danceable tracks on Culture For Pigeon, it’s there in the keyboard squelch of Quaasars, and in the assured disco beats meets playground chant of This is Dog City. Things get really interesting when Tracy/Wynne slows things down, and become thoughtful. Greenwood has an interesting vibrato vocal style, which is both jarring and cutely disarming at the same time. �You’re leaving me tomorrow night’ she whispers sounding fragile and broken during Happens, �this is the song I could not write you’. With little more than a keyboard for accompaniment, it is a beautifully raw description of the end of a relationship.

When the pretensions are left behind, Culture For Pigeon proves to be an interesting little album (it is little over 26 minutes in total). How you view this album really does depend if you can stop yourself from dismissing it as bobbins as soon as you see the DVD section.

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