Melbourne composer Prudence Rees-Lee, aka Prudence, began working with Zac Pennington, of Parenthetical Girls and Xiu Xiu, a handful of years ago. The pair’s first release under the Popular Music guise was 2020’s Popular Music Plays in Darkness, which centred on songs of longing and desperation taken from twentieth-century Hollywood films.
The group’s new album, Minor Works of Popular Music, is their first collection of original material. It was recorded between Los Angeles, Melbourne/Naarm, Moscow and New York, and features contributions from Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier, composer and arranger Jherek Bischoff, and a 17-piece Russian chamber orchestra. Stream and purchase Minor Works here.
In the duo’s own words, the songs on Minor Works are “built in part on an architecture of in-text citations — borrowed, recontextualised, interpolated, stolen.” Ahead of their Naarm album launch on Thursday, 26th October, the members of Popular Music provide Music Feeds with a few essential footnotes.
Popular Music – Minor Works
Popular Music’s Minor Works Reference List
“There is no lost chord. No changes untried. No extra notes to the scale or hidden beats to the bar. There is no point in searching for originality.” — The Manual, The KLF
Zac Pennington and Prudence Rees-Lee: Popular Music is the name of the group, and also its palette. The songs on Minor Works are built in part on an architecture of in-text citations — borrowed, recontextualized, interpolated, stolen. Here‘s a few footnotes.
Aaron Copland’s ‘Fanfare For the Common Man’; as heard on ‘Lifetime Achievement’
Popular Music: Or more specifically, Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s nine-minute prog-rock albatross rendition of the maestro’s opus. ‘Fanfare’ gets a name check in the lyrics of ‘Lifetime Achievement,’ as well as a fairly heavy-handed sonic nod just before the first chorus.
Barry Manilow’s ‘I Write the Songs’; as heard on ‘Sad Songs’
PM: In spite of what he tells you, Barry Manilow did not write ‘I Write the Songs.’
Ennio Morricone’s ‘Ninna Nanna In Blu’ (Theme from The Cat O’ Nine Tails); as heard on ‘Bad Actors’
PM: Morricone’s discography has been ransacked more times than the Marvin Gaye estate. It’s more an inspiration here than outright larceny, in case his kin start getting litigious.
Spacemen 3’s ‘Lord Can You Hear Me?’; as heard on ‘Desert Motel #2’
PM: Probably the most beautiful gospel song about contemplating suicide ever written. If you’ve got a better one, we’d sincerely love to hear it.
Parenthetical Girls’ ‘Young Eucharists’; as heard on ‘Disbelief’
PM: There are a lot of professional settings in which self-plagiarism is generally frowned upon; in music we call this “variations on a theme.”
Roy Orbison’s ‘It’s Over’; as heard on ‘Revelations’
PM: “You won’t be seeing rainbows anymore.” A most devastating apex from the undisputed king of the crescendo, here put to apocalyptic purposes. Blink and you’ll miss it.
Popular Music – Minor Works Launch
w/ Denim Owl, Maxi Dress, DJ Cassandra Kiely
- Thursday, 26th October – The Curtin, Naarm/Melbourne VIC
Tickets on sale now