Monday, June 13, 2011

The Pattern Theory - The Pattern Theory

The Pattern Theory

The Pattern Theory
Valeot Records.

SCQ Rating: 81%

It’s easy to get pessimistic about post-rock. The genre’s prolific peak notwithstanding, post-rock has been subject to its share of droughts in which only acts like Explosions In the Sky and the Twilight Sad have bolstered a disillusioned fanbase. Even Sigur Ros, who crafted one of the best post-rock albums of the 90s, dropped that bitch mid-decade in favour of, well, whatever they’re up to now. Rarely has a musical movement been so perpetually devoid of progressive flair, which gives some credence to folks who accuse post-rock of drying up shortly after its quiet-LOUD high-watermarks (think Godspeed You Black Emperor, Mogwai, Tortoise). With only a handful of quality contributions appearing each year, it’s difficult to deny the powers of persuasion; maybe post-rock is but a series of peaks and valleys, wordless verses and crashing choruses.

Then, an oasis. It happens in the midst of every bleak revelation: a new band arrives with a new disc and suddenly post-rock has value again. Enter The Pattern Theory, a Berlin-based three-piece who over the course of eight sprawling tracks manage to remind me what’s so important about this frustrating musical style. Let ‘Pyramid Schemes’ do the talking; an opener whose vibrant trails of feedback sear in and out of the mix, as if measuring the square-footage of their sound while bass and percussion probe away. Suddenly guitars interlock with a pulsating beat and ride a groove that defies the grandeur-seeking typical of this style; The Pattern Theory seem more interested in playing with tempos and tones than shattering eardrums.

That isn’t what most post-rock fans would call “progressive” but there’s comfort in the trio’s mostly traditional approach. It’s their execution which differs, preferring spritely tempos undercut by xylophones, vibraphones, organs and synthesizers. Elastic progressions bend over warm xylophones on the busy ‘Chevrons’ while ‘Framed Fields’ takes the scenic route around nostalgic progressions and relaxed drumming. Sticking closely to their chosen palette, The Pattern Theory have crafted a self-titled debut that is almost cohesive to a fault, as differentiating these instrumentals initially proves difficult. But like any great post-rock record, The Pattern Theory deserves to be heard as a full-length so that its tracks can bleed like movements of the whole. It may not reinvigorate the genre to its second-coming but The Pattern Theory is a welcome reminder of post-rock’s raw potential.

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