The Golden Palominos • Dead Inside
∴ I want to strangle the stars for all they promised me ∴
The Golden Palominos' ninth album, Dead Inside, was recorded at Greenpoint Studio in New York City, where Anton Fier (drums and other noises), Nicole Blackman (vocals/voices and lyrics), Knox Chandler (electric and acoustic guitars), Bill Laswell (bass guitar), and Nicky Skopelitis (other guitars) took approximately one year to lay it all down digitally. From its stark black cover design to its sometimes minimalist, sometimes dance-club rhythms, Dead Inside is quite a departure from any previous Golden Palominos album. The albums that immediately preceded it, 1993's This Is How It Feels and 1994's Pure, did somewhat lead up to Dead Inside, but after hearing each of the previous two albums, any casual listener would have no idea that the next album would be as bleak, introspective, and brutally seductive as Dead Inside would be.
The founder and brains behind the Golden Palominos, Anton Fier, effortlessly lays down hypnotic, undulating beats, synths and other weird noises (such as a dentist's drill), that go along intimately with not only Knox Chandler's guitars and Bill Laswell's bass, but most especially with poetry goddess Nicole Blackman's haunting words, half of which are sung and half of which are spoken (or, in Nicole's words, broken), not without more than a touch of sarcasm, spite, longing, sexuality and depression. The result was so impressive that a rumor circulated saying that former Golden Palominos contributor Lori Carson publicly insulted Nicole Blackman several times in a bitter orgy of jealousy.
Dead Inside was released by Restless Records on October 8, 1996. The cover art and CD design all consist of a matte black background, and printed in Times New Roman on the cover and CD is "the golden palominos" in white and "dead inside" in red. The inlay booklet contains some minimal liner notes and the complete lyrics in the same font.
All you know of heroines is what you read...
sometimes we burn, sometimes we bleed...
01. Victim (Blackman/Fier)
Victim is by far and away the most disturbing track on this odyssey of an album. It describes, in a first-person narrative, the experience of a woman being kidnapped by a random man, and what happens after he removes her from the trunk of his car once they reach his farmhouse. "All I hear is a click..."
02. Belfast (Blackman/Fier)
We go from the nearly unbearable misery of Victim to Belfast, which is something of a sarcastic look at the New York City yuppie scene and the living-deadness of it all. "You lick her diamond and you kiss her pearl, but you can't get the Belfast out of the girl..."
03. Ride (Blackman/Fier)
This song, while not much different than Belfast, is still an interesting jab at NYC's upper class. "Drive through tunnels and crawl through caves, and suffer through a life that no city can save..."
04. The Ambitions Are (Blackman/Chandler/Fier)
This is the centerpiece of Dead Inside. It's an eight-minute-long mad-as-hell rant chanted with the strength of a thousand sledgehammers by Nicole's sardonic voice. It's about everything, really, from poverty to mid-life crisis to suburban monotony. "Wish you had someone to speak code with... wish you had someone to steal things for... wish you had someone to fuck you so you could finally go to sleep!"
05. Drown (Blackman/Fier)
A strange track to follow up The Ambitions Are with, Drown will have you thinking wistfully about past adventures. This song, to me, makes me realize that Nicole Blackman sounds like everyone I've ever wanted to have sex with, even though she would surely destroy me. "Cozy he calls me... says I smell like sweet cream..."
06. Holy (Blackman/Fier)
Holy is about coming to terms with anorexia, rather than trying to get rid of it. It's haunting, frightening, and somewhat reminiscent of Nicole's earlier poetry. "Sometimes God comes in and says I'm doing fine..."
07. You Are Never Ready (Blackman/Fier)
A meditation, perhaps, in preparation of death? Or maybe a PCP trip... in either case it feels like you're being spoken to directly. "In four minutes you will be gone, and I must tell you why..."
08. Metal Eye (Blackman/Fier)
Though the lyrics are somewhat cryptic (Nicole's often are), my interpretation of this song leads me to believe that it's about a visit to a strip club. "She's the girl you don't understand. She's the girl with the see-through hands. When she was born there must have been a spark, but there's nothing there now in her cold, chrome heart."
09. Thirst (Blackman/Fier)
Apart from Drown, Thirst is the other sex-drenched, emotional track on Dead Inside. It's entirely spoken along with Anton Fier's accompanying dance beats and a strange rushing sound that reminds me of having vertigo. It shows that this album isn't all treachery and viciousness, despite this track's relative element of turbulence. "When we go public, my China bird, I'll let you tell the story... when you hurt me, I won't let it show."
10. Curses (Blackman/Fier)
The lyrics to this song and the moderate pace of the beat lead me to believe that this song is a summation of the album, of the songs that preceded it. It contains variations on just about all the lyrics from the other songs, and a large bit dedicated to what this is. "All you know of heroines is what you read... sometimes we burn, sometimes we bleed..."
If you don't even like electronic music, buy this album. The lyrics and the voice that's singing them are worth the price of the CD. Everyone I've ever played this CD for has become instantly addicted to it, and apparently, not many have heard of either the Golden Palominos as a 20-year-old collaborative effort, or of Nicole Blackman as an acid-tongued poetry goddess.
Come here, little bird
Let me lick your feathers back
Come here to your complicated cat