New Papa M? The last time Drag City said “Papa M,” it was 2004 and they were talking about a compilation album. Papa M was attached to some of the 80s-90s greatest no-core records, especially if you consider his imaginary alter ego, one David Pajo. But that was a long time ago. So why then does Highway Songs spill into our ears with a newness, a vitality that only fresh blood can bring?
The instrumental sounds he’s made in the name of Papa M – on albums like Live From a Shark Cage and Whatever, Mortal – implied danger, violence and total alienation, alongside a peaceful, easy, good-willin’ and wide streak of broke-toothed black humour. After those albums followed by a long silent phase, we’ve now got Highway Songs.
With each encroaching moment of Highway Songs, it sounds to us more and more like good old Papa M, as David throws back the veil from recent times to bear witness to miasmic mood-clouds passing not over but THROUGH him. Music from where the mind goes when the body is broken. Reflecting time spent hooked up to machines. A good person with bad thoughts, a story told in fragments. The Papa M approach is laced with fun amongst the bristle. Take the first single, “Walking on Coronado”, for example – it’s a jaunt into the light, asserting the gumption and optimism that has always run under his bridge.
As before, Highway Songs is pretty much all played by Pajo, whose multi-instrumental flair (and Def Leppard-inspired one-legged drum technique!) always endures. All these things are what makes Papa M, and it’s damn good to hear them, and him, again on November 11th.