Ral Partha Vogelbacher
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Ral Partha Vogelbacher


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"'Shrill Falcons' review"

"Props for the bandname of Chadwick Bidwell and his Thee More Shallows collabo. Props for the music. Props for featuring Odd Nosdam. Some more general props. But why not continue with such a fantastic album title like their earlier "The More Nice Fey Elven Gnomes Are Hiding In My Toilet Again"? It just fits so much better to those fantasy dronescapes." 8.9/10 - Lodown

"'Shrill Falcons' review"

"Ral Partha Vogelbacher are a band not a person. Just thought that would be a valuable thing to straighten out right off the bat. They are basically the brainchild of one Chadwick Bidwell, a chap from San Francisco with a mind made for bizarre lyrics and eccentricities about events that hover somewhere between the real and fake, the odd and the normal. Lending their invaluable talents to the proceedings and making up the backbone of Ral Partha are the wondrous souls from Thee More shallows Dee Kelser and Jason Gonzales who bring there formidable baroque pop sensibilities to the record. Stick this much talent in a studio and the results were always going to be good. However what actually happened is the result turned out to be really fucking good. The rye wit and turn of phrase that has been present in Bidwell's earlier work is still here in droves as he tells stories of artists, sturgeons, national parks and falcons, stories full of paranoia and humour, joy and bitterness that are baffling and wonderful. It ends up being a bit like Bill Callahan but with a sense of fun. Musically though this record far exceeds anything Ral Partha have done before. With the watchful eye and talent of Dee Kelser the songs on Shrill Falcons are complex pop scattered with discord and noise that swell and ebb till they are bursting at the seams. Its like listening to audio worms that burrow into your mind and then lay there fetid music eggs directly into the part of your brain that makes you love music. It don’t matter if you want to hate it or not, the worm won’t let you. ‘Shrill Falcons’ is simply and purely a marvellous record, far more that the sum of its parts and every bit ( in fact dare I say on occasions better) than its entire members previous musical output. Ignore all those bastards in the popular music press telling you this and that is the ‘first essential album of 2006’ and listen to me. THIS is the first essential album of 2006 and I know what’s best for you all. Besides I’m pretty sure if you don’t buy it then you will die with a small nagging feeling in your soul meaning you will never truly be able to rest."
- Tasty (UK)

"'Shrill Falcons' review"

"Picture the scene. You're at the bus stop with Ral Partha Vogelbacher on your iPod. Its freezing, you've lost your Oyster Card and its starting to hail. That's right: grizzly grey-as-fuck February needs a dirty soundtrack, and "Shrill Falcons" is most certainly the right bird for the job. All that bitter British wind and gnashing of teeth makes perfect sense in the context of morose lyricism, desolate soundscaping, and deeply unnerving feedback. Funny because the band are from San Francisco where the weather is more clement. Still, they've got the gnashing of teeth bit right. In fact, there are some genuinely horrible sounds on this record, and I'm sure you're going to enjoy them as much as I did. Brilliantly morbid anti-music." - Touch (UK)

"'Shrill Falcons' review"

"Inspired by the death of his father, a trip to China, and time spent listening to "doomy metal and droney, noisey stuff," Chadwick Bidwell's Ral Partha collective has created a concept album of sorts; but one far from the gloomfest foretold by such dark themes.

With labelmates David Kesler and Jason Gonzales of Thee More Shallows making up the core RPV trio, and Kesler's role expanded to provider of music to Bidwell's lyrics, "Shrill Falcons" is a more immediate set of songs than its occaisonally ragged predecessors, "Kite vs Obelisk" and "The More Nice Fey Elves..." whilst maintaining the oddball ingenuity that drew all those Pavement comparisons for the earlier records.

On the record's most sombre track, the lengthy drone-led New Happy Fawn, Bidwell reinvents a scenario from his life in which his mother asks him to kill a neighborhood stray cat, a task his father failed to accomplish before he passed away. Perched on the ramparts of his castle home, with binoculars and rifle in tow, poised to shoot [the cat having become the grazing young deer of the title], Bidwell's attention is drawn to "ants climbing my bald legs and the breeze troubling the trees / I smelled something burning in the distance." The inference is one of reincarnation, accentuated by the following refrain, "I never considered my mother a widow," repeate mantra-like while Odd Nosdam's tapestry of drones build toward a dreamlike denouement. The mood is soon lifted by the subsequent Garden Assault, some Grandaddy-esque light relief, reminiscing about misspent youth in Florida.

Potential single, Silver Mines, makes much of a minimal lyric, buoyed by a driving, chugging rhythm and the repeated line "shooting strychnine in the silver mines with the Black Panthers and the lazy, lazy Buroughs," appearing to throw any concepts out the window until a snappy second half proclaims, "I'm gonna have to run down the street until I find a way to concentrate on each of those words you stuck all over the night [a reference to Burrough's cut-up technique?] scattered all over my family tree," while the two-minute CDB National Park leaves little room for such doubt ["I'm standing before the future location of the Clifford Donald Bidwell National Park"], albeit suitably abstract. The call and response with Kesler here is one of the album's most satisfying moments, providing a dreamy interlude and black comic levity: "I caught myself pretending I was boarding a ship" / "HMS Audacious" / "And as the shells ripped through my breast" / "Barely missing my heart" / "I let go of the fence and I fell to the sidewalk, shattering my wrist."

When, on the propulsive Messy Artist, he sings of work "obscured by intentional obfuscation," Bidwell appears to be turning the tables on himself, mocking his own methods by comparing them to the slipshod manner of a "caged and giggling" painter, "smoking a filthy pipe when he couldn't find rolling papers hidden under his front seat." The song is reflected in the cover art, a hand-painted flag that reveals its brush strokes upon closer inspection, with an inner sleave that reveals nothing but random paint daubs on the rear of the canvas.

Bidwell's life may permeate his work and give it its all-important personal credence, but it's the "intentional obfuscation" that elevates it to an art form, with 'Shrill Falcons' open to multifarious interpretations and inspired repeat viewings." - Comes With A Smile


'Shrill Falcons' CD LP (2006) (Monotreme)
'Kite Vs Obelisk' CD LP (2003) (Megalon, Monotreme)
'The More Nice Fey Elven Gnomes Are Hiding In My Toilet Again' CD LP (2001) (Megalon)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Following 2003's 'Kite vs Obelisk', San Francisco's Ral Partha Vogelbacher return with a third album, 'Shrill Falcons'. Ral Partha Vogelbacher are a 'they', not a 'he': frontman and founder Chadwick Bidwell is once again joined by friends and collaborators Thee More Shallows. Tearing up the usual template, this time around Bidwell wrote the lyrics (he provides almost all the vocals on the record) and gave them to TMS' Dee Kesler who composed most of the music. Musically more hi-fi and lyrically less oblique than both 'Kite vs Obelisk' and 2001's self-released 'The More Nice Fey Elven Gnomes Are Hiding In My Toilet Again', 'Shrill Falcons' uses a vibrant palette of musical instruments, electronic drones and fuzz guitar to create a rich, multi-hued album of very personal and very memorable songs about loss, family, friendship, feedback and sturgeon. With dusted atmospherics reminiscent of Bill Callaghan's Smog and a dense yet dextrous lyricism akin to Dan Bejar's Destroyer, 'Shrill Falcons' is thematically a weightier album than the previous two. Where they were both largely fantasy- and/or imagination-driven (elves; knights; historic battles; tales of olde) this time inspiration is rooted in bleaker reality – the album is concerned chiefly with the death of Bidwell's father a few years ago. All sounds were played by TMS and Chad Bidwell, besides where Anticon artist Odd Nosdam creates a dreamscape in the middle of 'New Happy Fawn'.