Kulturkatzenjammer is the new album from Pajaro Sunrise, the musical project led by Yuri Méndez Jr. Yuri wrote, played, arranged, sang, mixed and produced everything except the drums on a couple of songs. The production on this album is less classic and more contemporary than earlier Pajaro Sunrise albums, which were praised by Uncut, Q and Monocle among many others.
The sound has moved away from the American folk of his previous work and come closer to electronica, which sometimes adds emphasis, and sometimes completely leads the show. However, what hasn ́t changed is the quality of the songwriting. Whether ensconced in electronic sounds or
stark and naked, Yuri ́s songs are brilliant, moving, brimming with emotion and this, without a doubt, is the Pajaro Sunrise signature.
In Yuri ́s words:
Katzenjammer, without “kultur” has at least three meanings:
-The sound that cats make when they are complaining or asking for something, like “caterwaul” in English
-Hangover (probably because the experience of having a hangover is more or less like having to
share a room with a relentlessly complaining cat)
- A real bummer
I first discovered the word, “Kulturkatzenjammer”, in an essay by Dwight Macdonald entitled “Masscult and Midcult”, in which he translates it to “cultural nightmare”. You could also describe it as "a cultural hangover" or "a cultural depression" and although in the context of his essay
Kulturkatzenjammer doesn ́t mean any of these exactly, it is simple to find other meanings:
- Musically: in the sense that nowadays, when music has become incredibly easy for listeners to get hold of, and for musicians, much easier to create, the abundance of music is almost impossible to
comprehend, both for listeners and creators. I don ́t think this album fits into any genre – except perhaps pop. For me, and particularly in this moment, doing something different would have been just an exercise in style, and therefore one-dimensional. The explanation is that this is the first Pajaro Sunrise album on which I focus on being a singer-songwriter - on letting the lyrics guide everything
else. Taking into account the fact that we ́re in 2013 and that I haven ́t performed for a year and a half, but have listened to lots and lots of music, the heterogeneity of genres is a sort of Kulturkatzenjammer: the hangover of having listened to more music than is possible to digest in
such a short period of time. Also, considering that the fans of Pajaro Sunrise generally lean towards not only the musical style known as Americana, but also whatever genre that can be considered
“pretty music” (without any negative connotations), the word Katzenjammer could be interpreted as “unpleasant sound”. Mostly because I think that is how some of these songs are going to seem to the
- Culturally: the over supply of music is common to other media. There is so much information available and it creates such diverse mental states (because we ́re forced to choose just a part of it),
that it creates a gap not only between different social groups but also within every social group. In this case, culture divides us and makes it difficult to communicate (just like a hangover), because of the excess of information. Also, in music as well as culture and society, the result is a general weariness that pushes people to cling to a few concepts and deny all the rest. This weariness is the direct result of our cultural overload – again, a hangover –and the negative side of having to keep
filtering the enormous amount of available information. A real bummer, in other words.
- Socially: right now we ́re experiencing a state of emergency, in which people are going back to simple, easily assimilated, old ideas as a way of feeling safe, now that they can ́t get that feeling of safety from their surroundings, or from the onslaught of new information, which is perceived as threatening or disconcerting. On the other hand, the title in German (which I don ́t speak) is also a wink at the "master", meaning that our culture center returns cyclically to the North – their drunkenness, our hangover. This can be understood even if you don ́t know the meaning of the words: it ́s today ́s inheritance.