Pattern is Movement
Self-recorded in Philadelphia | Produced, engineered and mixed by Scott Solter
Far too often, classically trained musicians tend to forget that music doesn’t have to be advanced in order to be enjoyable and often, advancement can hamper a work rather than promote it. Luckily, Andrew Thiboldeaux and Chris Ward, the duo known as Pattern is Movement, have managed to find a happy medium on their latest, All Together.
The prevailing sensation of the record is one of adventurous curiosity, structures varying wildly from minute to minute on each track, the only constant being Thiboldeaux’s whimsical vocal turns. The music is dizzyingly complex if you stop to think about it for a moment, but like peers The Fiery Furnaces, the band’s adherence to pop hooks and dreamy strings and pianos keeps everything interesting rather than the boring self-serving experiment it could be. On “Jenny Ono,” the duo set bombastic, fractured percussion up against lush strings, recalling the more frenzied moments of Scott Walker. The effect creates one of the more ethereal pop songs in recent memory: strangely warm and embracing, but sacrificing none of the band’s avant tendencies.
The best moments of the album stick to a similar formula and allow Scott Solter’s production to act as an instrument of its own. Solter deserves praise for crafting a production style that is rich in texture and unobtrusive. Much of All Together manages to sound beautifully decayed as though it were sampled – the drums compressed enough to crunch but not pushed to the point of thinness, the strings sounding positively unworldly. The one-two punch of “Peach Trees” and “Trolley Friend” stand out as the highlight of the album. The clanking pianos of “Peach Trees” give the song an almost psychotic beauty to match the vaguely Oedipal lyrics, with its narrator’s desire to “kill your father.” By contrast, “Trolley Friend” is a blazing venture
through a world split equally between gamelan-like percussive work and the ebb and flow of Renaissance ballrooms, as though Dan Deacon had sat in on the session.
Although All Together occasionally wanders into overly somber, melancholic territory – as on the fitfully depressed “Sea Captain” – the work as a whole is gorgeous and insightful, exciting in the risks it takes and joyously comforting in the moments that feel instantly familiar. Pattern is Movement have proven themselves to be onto something new, but more importantly they’ve also shown that not all things advanced have to be confusing and boring. (Hometapes)