August 29, 2009
I Am The Polish Army is the project of Brooklyn duo Emma DeCorsey and C.P. Roth, a drum and guitar pair that have been playing together for the last two years. The twosome’s name comes from a line in surrealist Alfred Jarry’s play “Ubu Roi,” a farcical play ridiculing military aggression, not ridiculing Poland. Jarry, an absurdist and trickster, expressed his ideas through mockery, exaggeration, and satire, and even coined his own antiphilosophy, “pataphysics.” Pataphysics is the “science” of making assumptions about things and inventing reasons, plausible and implausible, for why things happen. For instance, if I see my landlord and he doesn’t say “hi” it obviously means he hates me, probably because my haircut offends the upright gentry of his building. Obvious, right? That’s a pataphysical story I invent in my head to explain reality to myself. Okay, are you buying this?
Well, opposite the absurdity of Alfred Jarry, I Am The Polish Army chronicles real life stories of “sex, lost love, drinking, [and] suicide,” on their newest Club Demos EP. “Us In The Woods” recounts the story of three friends sleeping in the woods, Chan Marshall (of Cat Power) narrative style. “Dead Men” reminisces about what a lost lover leaves behind. The realism of DeCorsey’s lyrics contrasts with the borrowed Jarry namesake, and perhaps the Jarry reference is a defense mechanism IATPA uses to speak of uncomfortable human emotion. DeCorsey says in email that she is a “young, emotionally fragile, and ultimately passionate woman living in the city right now,” and listeners will hear this in her unguarded vocal delivery, which combines Loretta Lynn’s twang and Katie Eastburn’s (from Brooklyn’s Young People) straightforwardness.
Just as Jarry inspires us to create personalized narratives out of our surroundings, I Am The Polish Army uses their union of Appalachia and indie rock to inspire listeners to muse over their city life in New York and Brooklyn. IATPA’s shrewd bass and guitar interplay inspire thought, and could easily pass as a soundtrack for a drizzly stroll under the JMZ underpass on Broadway in Brooklyn. And it is this brooding thought that produces the dual nature of I Am The Polish Army: nonfiction and fable, modern and folk. But finally, I Am The Polish Army embodies the characteristics of the Brooklyn it is in – a modern, electric city. DeCorsey says IATPA has consciously chosen only to play its Appalachia electric. “It doesn’t make sense,” she says of performing acoustic, “electricity…is important…because the city is electric to me and that’s the world I’m in.”
by Thomas Wilk