Uneasy Flowers


Released on CD in March of 2008 on Kranky, Uneasy Flowers is the second album by New Zealand's Autistic Daughters, the intercontinental trio of Dean Roberts (guitar, vocals), Martin Brandlmayr (percussion, computer) and Werner Dafeldecker (guitar, bass). It is also the fourth in a series of records in which Roberts, having begun in more abstract territory in New Zealand's mid-1990s "free noise" ferment, has embraced song, lyric and voice as vessels for topographic and psychoanalytic tracings of the impacts of territory and nomadism on the subject. This is reflected by the shape-shifting nature of the outfit: while Autistic Daughters (whose name comes from a lyric from their first record Jealousy And Diamond) are resolutely a trio, they also work in cinematic format, with ancillary players behind the trio's complex, worm-turning arrangements: in this instance, Chris Abrahams of The Necks, Martin Siewert and Valerio Tricoli. With Uneasy Flowers, Roberts traces the internal and external workings of one protagonist: or, rather, a protagonist who "contains multitudes," a Whitmanian figure that dissolves the unified self. Rather, this character, "Rehana," embodies multiplicity and fragmentation in order to both a) address loss and b) aim toward transfiguration, transcendence. There are traces in the lyrics -- traces of addiction and desire, myth and transformation -- that are obliquely reflected in the music's structure, its uneasy tension between the pop song (the "moment") and experiment (the "process"). In some ways, it reminds of the structural, loop-based cinema of figures like Malcolm LeGrice: taking one moment and stretching it, the better to capture its nuances and to draw out all the repressed material caught in the mise-en-scène, the hidden, cloaked content that erupts when your world spirals out of your control and gets caught in webs of interpersonal politic. The move from intimacy to the capture of the "greater picture" enacted by both lyric and music here resembles a camera dollying out, a shift of perspective unsettling for its vertigo-inducing qualities. Experimental deconstructionism within a pop framework that is contemplative, well-crafted, and gracefully unsettling.