David “Papa M” Pajo might be the busiest man in indie music most people haven’t heard of.
A founding member of the influential post-rock group Slint, he has also played with Stereolab, Tortoise, Will Oldham, King Kong, Royal Trux, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Billy Corgan’s post-Pumpkins group Zwan. If a group passed through Chicago anytime in the past 25 years, chances are Pajo was onstage with them.
It’s this restless desire to create that has shaped his solo career, under the varying names of Aerial M, Papa M, or simply Pajo. Never settling on a single style (or stage name) yet always recognizable, Pajo has created an impressive and critically revered catalog of music outside of any trends. 2001’s Whatever Mortal was one of my favorite records of the era, it’s shapeshifting styles held together with Pajo’s resonant yet flawed vocals, much like those of his Drag City label mates Will Oldham (a.k.a. Bonnie “Prince” Billy) and Bill Callahan (a.k.a. Smog).
Papa M’s latest album, A Broke Moon Rises, is purely instrumental, but his guitar picking is as recognizable and warm as ever. The songs here float and drifting pleasantly before fading away, reminiscent of the contemplative soundscapes of Daniel Lanois. While little here really jumps out at you, it’s a pleasant and meditative album great for relaxing to from an iconoclast musician who has contributed so much to the indie music community.