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Pram


Country of origin:

England

Type of music generally:

Odd evocative/eclectic experimental alternative pop

Status:

Most recent release, The Moving Frontier (2007)

See also:

Wikipedia's page for Pram

Pram's MySpace page

Domino Records' Pram Site

Comparisons:

Unique; a mix of Frank Zappa and the Beach Boys; precursors to such bands as Psapp

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Strange but sometimes beautifully harmonic and almost ethereal from the very edges of pop. Beats that almost fall over the edge, and a strange small, scratchy but melodic voice. Lots of different noises going in all directions (toy pianos?) but somehow coming together not exactly into anything you would call harmony but something that is identifiably a song. Not for the faint of heart at least as far as the non-mainstream is concerned. Weird noise: discord brought in service of pop.
     Pram makes some pretty weird sounds. I love it. Toy pianos rule, and so does Pram's vocalist Rosie, who sings like she's on a floor that's tilting below her feet. Damn delightful stuff. Not for the faint of heart, but will charm the socks off other people. Like me. Or someone else you've never met. (Neile)

I recall one time thinking it was really annoying, and another time thinking it was pretty cool. The most telling comment I can make is that I was listening to it on my walkman on a plane, and the batteries were running out. The music kept getting slower and slower, but it didn't seem at all uncharacteristic with the sound. Only after an extended period of silence did I notice that it had stopped completely.
     I think Pram is still Pram, regardless of the speed. (neal)

Recommended first album:

Hard call—try whatever you can find and see if you like it. The Museum of Imaginary Animals would be a fine place. As would be The Stars Are So Big The Earth Is So Small.... (Neile)

Recordings:


Gash

Release info:

Originally about 1991—How Records—Wail 001 and Wail 002; re-released 1997—Howl Records, U.S.A.—ae 5

Availability:

Special order or from label

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of weird altpop

Group members:

"Music by Pram. Lyrics by Rose"

Comments:

I would give other albums of theirs a higher priority than this one if you've never heard them, but it's still way good. (Neile)

For completists only. Some raw and uncooked demo versions of songs that later wound up on the first ep, plus an assortment of late '80s live tracks that are grating and rather hard to listen to. The germ of Pram is there underneath all the clutter though. (jmgurley@drizzle.com)


Iron Lung e.p.

Release info:

circa 1992? [date not listed]—Too Pure (U.K.)—Pure CD 17

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of weird altpop

Group members:

"music—pram lyrics—rosie"

Comments:

Pram at their most minimal. This EP, my first introduction to them back in 1993, signaled that this was not the usual rock band. More a mix of Frank Zappa and the Beach Boys. Rosie's voice at first grating and for some is an acquired taste, but somehow its rough textures suite the music well. The music is more stripped-down and repetitive, more minimalist, than in later CDs, but is a good indication of the range of unusual instrumentation they incorporate into the mix. And they think they are a normal pop band?! (jmgurley@drizzle.com)

The Stars Are So Big The Earth Is So Small...

Release info:

1993—Too Pure, P.O. Box 1944, London NW10 5PJ, England—Pure CD 26

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of weird altpop

Group members:

"Music by Pram & The Mysterious Verdigris Horn on "In Dreams"

Comments:

First full-length and first time they have a horn player, Verdigris. Still the same driving percussion for the songs about aliens and weird creatures, but among the songs is a beautiful expansive almost-jazz-like appropriately-titled "In Dreams You Too Can Fly," which points the way for more jazz-influenced tunes. Much more accessible than the first ep. (jmgurley@drizzle.com)

Meshes ep

Release info:

circa 1994 [no date]—Too Pure (U.K.)—Pure CD 35

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

?

Group members:

"Music by Pram/lyrics by Rosie/Horns by Verdigris Al"

Comments:

Stop-gap ep where they further refine their musical palate. Highlight is "Legendary band of Venus" a jazz almost improvisational riff on "Loredo Venus" from The Stars Are So Big The Earth Is So Small.... (jmgurley@drizzle.com)

Helium

Release info:

1994—Too Pure (U.K.)—Pure CD 41

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of weird altpop

Group members:

"Music by Pram. Lyrics by Rosie. Horns by Verdigris."

Comments:

More off-kilter sounds, with songs about clown-fathers, lost loves and things left on the pavement. Manages to bring in an Hawaiian bubble-machine. There's an almost carnival feel to most of the songs, a circus of the absurd. Rosie is in fine fiddle, even barking and scatting on a song or two. This second full-length sounds like a pop album recorded on another galaxy and transmitted here by alien spaceships orbiting our unsuspecting planet. (jmgurley@drizzle.com)

Sargasso Sea

Release info:

1995—Too Pure (U.K.)—9 43021-2

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of weird altpop

Group members:

"Music by Pram. Lyrics by Rosie. Feature Mr. Verdigris Horn on tracks 1, 5, 6, 7. Featuring Mr. Simon Vincent on track 10."

Comments:

Yeah, they're still weird and off-the-wall musically, lyrically, and Rosie doesn't quite truly sing, but put it all together and Pram is one of the most interesting experimental-ish bands around. (Neile)

This is their Martin Denny album, a South Sea-type lounge music, albeit full of odd noises coming in from both sides of the mix. Much more melodic than their earlier work. To my ear it points the way toward their later materials. A transitional album. Verdigris' horn blends into the familiar and incongruous sounds well. (jmgurley@drizzle.com)


Music For Your Movies

Release info:

1996—ae, 4751 12th Ave NE Section A, Seattle, WA 98105, U.S.A.—ae 4

Availability:

Special order or from label

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Pram fans

Group members:

Music by Pram. Lyrics by Rosie. Featuring on "Carnival of Souls"—The Colonel (theremin)."

Comments:

This limited release ep manages to be more pop and tightly structured, with prominent rhythm guitar-work. The four songs are among the best Pram has ever done. The CD art is a clever appropriation of mid-'60s home movie kit graphics. And Rosie's lyrics are dour and comic (?!) all at once. (jmgurley@drizzle.com)

North Pole Radio Station

Release info:

1998—Domino Recording Co Ltd, PO Box 429, London SW15 2XR, England—WIGCD49

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of weird altpop

Group members:

"MUsic by Pram. Lyrics by Rosie"

Guest artists:

Simon Vincent, vox on "Sleepy Sweet"

Comments:

Their latest "proper" album, although it contains tracks previously available on important-only vinyl. The lyrics are more surreal (if possible?) than their previous CDs. Maggot lives, a woman who lost her love to the trains, the doors of an empty cupboard. The title of the CD is a dead giveaway. This does sound like music beamed in from some remote locate that plays by its own rules. Along with Music For Your Movies this is the most accessible and the one of their best. It's easy to see how much more confident they've become as musicians and songwriters. There are tons of '60s influences snuck in but transformed by Pram sensibilities and stylings. (jmgurley@drizzle.com)

I've loved all the Pram I've come across—I love the odd sense of their strange pop sound conglomerations and their vocalist's sweet tilty lyrics, but this one just hasn't had much air time. (Neile)


Sleepy Sweet [single]

Release info:

1998—Domino Recording Co Ltd, PO Box 429, London SW15 2XR, England—RUG73CD

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Pram fans

Group members:

"Music by Pram. Lyrics by Rosie"

Guest artists:

"Additional mix by PCM"

Comments:

A four-song single with "Sleepy Sweet" from North Pole Radio Station and a remix of "Cinnabar" from that album, as well as 2 fine non-album tracks.

A sordid remix affair of three tracks previously issued. Some danceable, some just sleepy/dreamy. Very melodic and carnival-like. A brief taste of Pram. Nothing spectacular, but just a pleasing little sampler. (jmgurley@drizzle.com)


Keep in a Dry Place & Away From Children

Release info:

1999—Domino Recording Co Ltd, PO Box 429, London SW15 2XR, England—RUG84CD

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Pram fans

Group members:

"Music by Pram"

Comments:

Soundtrack to the film, Keep in a Dry Place & Away From Children.

Soundtrack song for an animated cartoon about the dangers of a mischievous boy playing with matches. For completists only. Includes an insufferable remix of "Space Sirens"—the other song on the disk—by Mouse on Mars. (jmgurley@drizzle.com)


Telemetric Melodies

Release info:

1999—Domino Recording Co. Ltd., PO Box 4029, London SW15 2NR, England—WIGCD65

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of weird pop

Group members:

"Music by Pram Lyrics by Rosie"

Comments:

This seems to be an album of rarities and remixes.

A welcome compilation of limited edition vinyl. Not a great leap forward for them, but rather a further exploration of the skewered pop they've mined for the last few albums. Highly recommended. Also has a video for "Sleepy Sweet" from North Pole Radio Station, the only one I've ever seen and a strange one indeed. (jmgurley@drizzle.com)

Now Pram are utterly bizarre and off-kilter and their lead singer Rosie is off-beat, so I don't recommend this for everyone, but if you like really odd (in a Captain Beefheart-type way maybe?) stuff I highly recommend giving Pram a listen. We get every possible Pram release we can. (Neile)


The Museum of Imaginary Animals

Release info:

2000—Domino Recording Co. Ltd. (U.K.); Merge Records (U.S.A.)—MRG184

Availability:

U.K. and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of weird pop

Group members:

"Music by Pram Lyrics by Rosie"

Comments:

Pram are just so off-kilter sounding, always. Each of their albums is different, but off-kilter in the same way and full of interesting and unusual—but musical—sounds, and Rosie's odd vocals and lyrics. I especially enjoy this album, though I've liked all of theirs. It has an unusual and intriguing energy, especially "Mother of Pearl" and "Play of the Waves". Delightful. (Neile)

Somniloquy

Release info:

2001—Domino Recording Co—WIGCD95

Availability:

U.K. and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for Pram fans

Group members:

"Music by Pram/Lyrics by Rosie"

Comments:

This has 4 new songs and 5 remixes.

A non-essential collection of remixes with some holdovers of the previous album. Nothing startlingly new, but still interesting for die-hard fans. The new songs are what really would have been b-sides for singles by another artists. (jmgurley@drizzle.com)


Dark Island

Release info:

2003—Domino Recording (U.K.); Merge Records (U.S.)—MRG224

Availability:

U.K. and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of weird pop

Group members:

"Music by Pram/Lyrics by Rosie"

Guest artists:

Steve Perkins—drums (1, 2, 4)
Laurence Hunt—Drums (5, 7, 9, 10) Holly Simpson, Megan Bassett—violins (5)
Grandmaster Gareth—string arrangement (5)

Comments:

Pram do 1960s noir. Or something. Really, this does have a 1960s sort of feel, despite the overall signature Pram off-kilterness. Listening makes you wonder the weird and wonderful 1960s film this would be the soundtrack for. I would dearly love to see that movie. (Neile)

The Moving Frontier

Release info:

2007—Domino Record—WIGCD 203

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of weird pop

Group members:

"Music by Pram/Lyrics by Rosie"

Guest artists:

Natalie Mason—violin ((1)
Grandmaster Gareth—cello (1, 13), string arrangements

Comments:

What is it about Pram's music that makes their albums so hard to describe? This is like Dark Island in that it again seems like the soundtrack to a noir-ish movie from the 1960s— something to do with the atmospherics and the guitar sound. This is quite wonderful. "Salt & Sand", "Hums Around Us", and "Mariana Deep" are irresistible summer dreams. (Neile)

Further info:

Pram released a limited-edition DVD, Shadow Shows of the Phantascope of their movies and videos in December 2008.


Thanks to Jim Gurley for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2014-03-16 18:57:50.
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