Animal – Sawn Creator

Sawn Creator

It seems that with home-made, lo-fi music, you run the risk of making music that’s always going to be more interesting to you than it is to other people. And, come to think of it, that goes for any music made by anyone. And it applies to more things than just music, really. Whatever the medium, the artist may end up with art that only he truly appreciates. But it seems that making music for yourself, and by yourself, can be a good head start on making music that’s most appreciated by you alone.

That’s my reaction to Sawn Creator by Animal. I feel like I probably won’t ever appreciate the music as much as Mr. Nemec does. Hearing the invariably reliable pre-programmed drums, the distorted guitar and keyboards, and the monochromatic vocals on track after track left me wanting more variation. I suspect that its creator hears more going on here than I do. But that’s also how I originally felt about the phenomenon of Shawnimals, which have grown on me over time. In fact, maybe this album is the music equivalent of those little stuffed things: quirky, unassuming, and ultimately endearing. The cover art for Sawn Creator even looks suspiciously like Shawnimals being made.

I have to say, something about the tone of the guitars and keyboards, combined with the melodies themselves, has forced parts of these tunes into my short-term memory. While not exactly catchy or poppy, sometimes Animal’s songs hit you with something memorable (at least in the short term). “To the Future” features a fuzzed out guitar line that bleeds into a little keyboard run, and I can hear it in my head at will now. That song also features deadpan vocals and an air of disquiet, hallmarks of some of our best post-punk. When performed by one person in a small room with (probably) home-studio equipment, it loses much of its punch.

“Washington, D.C.” has the keyboards and drums playing melodies simultaneously, and the effect can be either intriguing or distracting, depending on your mood and patience. Instead of the canned drums, the track features only handclaps – and even then only at times. Coming halfway through the album, it was a nice breather. “I Got a Knife” begins with a jaunty keyboard pattern, which seems to be at odds with the ominous title. It’s a little hard to tell what the song’s actually about, but it is probably not about stabbing. However, it does seem like a stripped-down version of something that might pass for an early My Dad is Dead song (speaking of one-man shows). All in all, it feels like the winningest track of the bunch.

Animal’s lyrics are packaged with the CD. They tend to be a little odd, but in a fun way. Nothing that would rival Captain Beefheart’s non-sequiturs, but also nothing that you’re likely to hear on FM radio either. Overall, the 25 or so minutes of music here are upbeat, playful, and sometimes clever. I’m sure Mr. Nemec had fun making it. And he sure is an enterprising young man, putting out his albums steadily while also doing the packaging and running a label. I just wish there were a little something extra in it that made me want to hear it more than the few times I have already.