Review 12: PVT

Posted on February 22, 2012

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Awesome lighting@Messandnoise.com

Method of choosing: I was eating seasonal cherries and kept my finger on the forward arrow button, running through all the files, and stopping when I spit out the seed of the cherry I was chewing.

Albums available: O Soundtrack my HeartChurch with No Magic

Hypothesis: 

Euro dudes who perform in outsized blazers and solid colored clothing. Church with No Magic they make me think of estranged Catholics seeking solace and answers. From some of their song titles “Only the Wind Can Hear You”, “Circle of Friends”, “Crimson Swan”, I think they’re doing this seeking in trippy indulgent electronica-ish stuff. Still, there seems to be a lingering religious connection – “Timeless”, “Community”, “Light Up Bright Fires” (err, campfires…?), “Window” (When god closes the door…) Yikes. This is embarrassing.

O Soundtrack My Heart sounds frankly overwrought, as some Euro-plebians can be. I still call the religious slant – especially with tracks like “In My Blood” and “Sing You Sinners.”


Actual music:

Church with No Magic 

Church with No Magic, PVT @virgin.com

I started with Church first, not knowing then it was their later album.

Once the ailing Winamp chugged into action, my first thought was, “Gregorian chanting turned electronica?”

Indeed, PVT has a predominantly electronic sound, but not so trippy – they sound dark, slightly menacing even, with a strong and heavy beat that I enjoy very much. In fact, this darkness alleviates their overall sound from being too pretentious and self-indulgent. Vocals are deep, sonorous and echo-ey. As the tracks progress, I find myself pleasantly in quite well-landscaped prog-rock territory. PVT has rather clever layers of sounds, like an Animal Collective pushed along the scale to rock but still retaining the element of surprise.

Take “Windows” for instance. It’s got a distinctively radio-friendly, head-bobbing appeal, and is rather dancey even. And yet the track is still intriguingly constructed; at least, once I got past the vocals – which dominate in this track, though not others – and could focus on the instrumentation.

A few steps down the beer-bottle-strewn path to Underground Club is “Crimson Swan”, for example, is a beguiling layer-cake of different beats, synth, dissonant guitars, gloomy vocals and morsels of other sounds cooked up by some genius computer chef.

O Soundtrack My Heart

O Soundtrack My Heart, PVT@ progarchives.com

This was all instrumentals. It took a bit of getting used to – not that the tracks were hard on the ears, quite the contrary, actually – but being a pop pony I have become so conditioned to treating instrumentation as “vocals’ backup” or “the stuff in the background”. It took a bit of effort to listen carefully and not, uh, forget I was supposed to write down thoughts about the album.

Still, always a pleasure, never a chore. O Soundtrack runs an impressive gamut from grand soaring cinematic to cheesy sci-fi, sweet(ish)ly romantic, ambitious because-we-can soundscapes, beat-heavy trance, gritty industrial and a kind of retro James Bond-type chase. In all, very pleasurable. If I’d heard this album first I would have quite gladly waxed lyrical about my initiation into post/math rock.

Post-post-listen reflection (what they really sound and look like):

What ho! PVT is not European; instead, Richard Pike, Laurence Pike and Dave Miller are from Australia. And they’re not quite prog-rock, but Math rock. Math rock? As in trigonometry, fractions, and that teacher who hated me? At this moment, I turn to the soothing wisdom of Wikipedia. For the uninitiated like myself, Math rock is a complex guitar-based style heavily influenced by prog-rock (YES) that uses “instruments for textures rather than melodies and riffs, featuring atypical rhythms and some dissonance”.(1)

The Sydney-based lads were also initially called Pivot, but ditched the vowels after being issued a court order from an American band of the same name, “righteous American emos… (who had) never played outside their hometown,” according to Dave Miller. (2) It’s still pronounced “Pivot”, though. Dave Miller is also the aforementioned comp genius of the trio (and apparently the Giver of Interviews.) He seems pretty laid-back, explaining the band’s new sound quite coolly –

“Bits and pieces of that come out. It depends on the mood at the time… It’s not like we wrote it in five days at the beach. [Laughs] Some bits were written in gloomy London on a winter’s day. It varied.”  (3)

Stereogum called them “Yeasayer gone Bladerunner” or “Battles on some Coldplay kick” – but in any case, “The Band to Watch.” (4) Indeed.

PVT bathed in bokeh@clashmusic.com

Conclusion:

Will I listen to this again, and if so, under what circumstances? Oh yeah, if I need a trippy high and would like to envision a room full of pulsing multi-colored smoke. I’m not being sarcastic, sometimes I do like to visualise things like that. What?

Will put on music player? Huh. This is an album thing, not a track thing. Prolly not, plus I will definitely lose the subtleties of the instrumentation with all the ambient interference.

Pee-ass:

Pop over to their soundcloud, really. PVT’s uploaded 5 bonus tracks for Church with No Magic. Also, they did a bunch of dangerously good remixes for The Antlers, Temper Trap, Bibio, and others. Here’s my fav, a remix of Midnight Juggernaut’s “Cannibal Freeway”.

Refz, my manz

(1) “Math rock”, Wikipedia

(2) “A Conversation with Dave Miller of PVT”, Andrew Mcmillan

(3) “PVT: ‘We’ve Never Been a Dance Band”, Mess and Noise

(4) “Band to Watch: PVT”, Stereogum

Posted in: PVT, Review