It’s Tuesday night again and that means, yup, Hills…with a capital-fucking-H. I hate ’em. I mean, I really hate ’em. But I do them because they’re going to make me a better runner. Or so I keep telling myself anyway. so tonight after I drop off you-know-who at the pool, I’m lacing up the sneaks and heading off to do my usual (as of late) Tuesday night course which includes another 8.25k run including another four god-forsaken, soul-sucking, quad-bustin’ trips up the “Welland Vale Rd. Heartbreaker”. Tonight’s motivation is provided to you (me) by the ‘Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper‘* album by Panda Bear.
How very Halloween of me, right?
As I’ve already eluded to in the previous post I reviewed back in March, the dude might have like the stupidest name for a musical artist, like, ever, but dude has it goin’ on. there’s no denying it. Especially when you consider that dude also has Sonic Boom at the helm producing.
Released back in January of this year on the Domino Recording Company label, ‘Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper’ was preceded by the digital release of an extended play, ‘Mr. Noah’ (see the click provided above), and the two singles, ‘Mr. Noah‘ and ‘Boys Latin‘. Having recorded his bleaker previous album ‘Tomboy’ (2011) in a basement, Panda wanted to go into the opposite direction on this album, aiming for a more “lively” and “busy” sound. He began working on the album while working on Animal Collective’s ‘Centipede Hz’ (2012) in Texas. Sonic Boom, who mixed and mastered Panda Bear’s ‘Tomboy’, co-produced this album. Boom and Panda then spent two weeks in November of 2013 refining demo recordings Panda had made at home and spent five weeks, beginning in January of 2014, finishing the album. Boom then mixed the album on the Balearic island of Minorca. So, hey, that’s pretty cool. Dammit, this had better be good!
The lyrical themes of the album center around personal growth, although Panda Bear wanted to discuss issues on a larger scale because he wanted to avoid “self-obsession or narcissism”. The drum programming on the album was influenced by 1990’s hip-hop, specifically the Dust Brothers and A Tribe Called Quest.
The opening track, ‘Sequential Circuits‘ is a neo-psychedelia song which was cool for getting the run started out onto St. Paul Str. West. you could describe the song as “swirling” and “a[s] pure as a babbling brook”. I wouldn’t, mind you, but others apparently have. You can be your own judge. ‘Tropic of Cancer‘ contains a harp sample from the ‘The Nutcracker Suite‘ and its lyrics concern the death of Panda Bear’s father. His vocal harmonies on the song could be compared to those of The Beach Boys.
Other highlights aside from the two singles, include the seven minute track ‘Come to Your Senses’ that kept repeating a single question (“Are you mad?”) for which there is only one logical answer (“Yeah, I’m mad”), as the song’s shantytown acid-house throb mediates between serenity and insanity. THIS. Is what I’m talkin’ about! There couldn’t be a better mantra for running hills…believe me. I must be mad. In general, there’s just the right balance on ‘Grim Reaper‘ of skull-splitting drone and head-noddin’ drive, perfectly for keeping that motivated forward momentum going. Even when I’d rather be going backwards which was definitely the case along that 1st repeat up Welland Vale Rd. until ‘ol Thunder n’ Lightning warmed to the task.
Truth be told, these four hill repeats weren’t so bad. Sure they sucked…but they didn’t suck as bad. I hope that’s a sign of things improving and my getting a little stronger. The third repeat felt almost…good. Good enough for a 2nd overall effort along the ‘Welland Vale Rd. Heartbreaker’ Strava segment which, really, matches the same pace as my overall best PB along this same segment (1:11) at a pace of 4:58min/km.
Successes: 2nd best Strava effort on ‘Welland Vale Rd. Heartbreaker‘ segment (1:11).
* This actually sounds like the premise for a great joke: “So a panda bear and the Grim Reaper walk into a bar…”