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PRINZHORN DANCE SCHOOL DFA dfaemidj 2167cd (2007)

Prinzhorn Dance School

Taking their name from band members (Toby) Prinz on guitar, vocals and drums, and (Suzi) Horn on bass, vocals and drums, the self described minimalist aesthetic of Prinzhorn Dance School references both New York’s Fiery Furnaces, and France’s Minuscule Hey, in their less is more approach. And while it is temping to apply the standard situationist explanation for what they do, that is the theory that their musical output is determined by surrounding situations rather than personal qualities, Prinzhorn Dance School like any other aspiring band need a label and a context for what they do.

So for all their talk of fierce independence and emotional and sonic honesty, the fact that the duo have signed with the up and coming new York label DFA immediately ties them to the post punk dance tag, but in their case without the electronics and with a heavy emphasis on post art rock minimalism. What makes Prinzhorn Dance School that little bit different is their essential English subject matter which extends from the NHS through to contextualising a song in a north Notts town like Mansfield to specific place names like 'Hamworthy Sports & Leisure Centre’.

The sparse approach of course goes back to the late John Peel favourites such as Wire and what guitar there is occasionally burst out into a discordant Beefheart like phrases (originally played by Zoot Horn Rollo) as on 'Up Up Up’ and the intro’s to 'You Are The Space Invader’, and the short phrases on 'Don’t Talk To Strangers’.

On both 'Worker’ and the best effort of the lot, 'Cracker Jack Docker’ Toby Prinz employs a clever use of word play, and throughout this 16 song set his rapped out narratives are answered with a mix of call and response and chanted refrains from Suzi Horn.

There are some clever ideas, occasional humorous and ironic lyrics in this post punk deconstructed landscape, that at times as on 'Crash Crash Crash’ can be as bleak as they are perfunctory. On the simple but effective 'Eat, Sleep’ the duo show their lyrical minimalism works just as well in German as in English.

The closing 'Spaceman in your Garden’ is almost a belated melody that acts as the perfect foil to the unrelenting, uncompromising and essentially challenging work that has gone before.


Review by Pete Feenstra

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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