Grand Duchy is the latest venture from Charles Thompson (a.k.a Frank Black, a.k.a. Black Francis). It’s a duo with his wife Violet Clark that explores relatively off-road terrain for Thompson: high-gloss new wave and vampish synth pop. Grand Duchy’s playful and slightly Euro-affected debut album, Petits Four, is out April 14 on Cooking Vinyl. Thompson and Clark are guest editing magnetmagazine.com this week. Read our Q&A with them.
Grand Duchy have been giving shout-outs to comic badboys Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim of the Tim And Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (Adult Swim) every chance they get. Tim and Eric have a flair for the absurd that favors texture and tension over plotline, awkward silences over bombarding the viewer with dumbed-down “insights” and the blatantly insane over the inane. Like a Dalí painting, a Tim-and-Eric sketch compels a lot of head-scratching and reflection and, sometimes, pity (child clowns outlets and misfit variety acts, etc.). They are masters of their faces, engaging the viewer with intense, manipulated expressions to create uncomfortable pauses in the action. Their character studies and parodies of infomercials leave the viewer both gasping for breath and also a bit disturbed at the fine line between comedy and reality.
Zach Galifianakis, possibly the most talented comedian on the planet right now, shows up in several Tim-and-Eric sketches each season. A heady combination of sweet, wide-eyed, bearded philosopher-poet countenance and fragile acid wit, Mr. Galifianakis is the angry, impotent white man who ultimately just wants to be loved. Is that so wrong?
Together, the three comedians have achieved a masterpiece of raw, absurdist humor in The Vodka Movie Trilogy. Approached by Absolut to create essentially an extended dance mix of a commercial, Tim and Eric were given carte blanche as to what direction to take. As long as the name Absolut was mentioned, they were allowed to veer as far away from the topic as they wished. And so we are graced with the chronicling of a deliciously dysfunctional friendship triangle, in three parts. Videos after the jump.