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coverpic flag US - Illinois - Full Moon 125 - 12/05/06

Pit er Pat
Thrill Jockey

Chicago-based trio Pit er Pat is really something else. When spending a week in New York City this spring, I had the chance to go see Pit er Pat play live at the small Tonic club on Manhattan's Lower East Side. The concert was thrilling, they're musically "different", and after the show I bought the mini Emergency plus their very fine 2005 album Shakey. Now they've built Pyramids. Let's check.

Pit er Pat are bassist Rob Doran, drummer Butchy Fuego and keyboardist Fay Davis-Jeffers. They all take turns singing, and their music bubble and flutter, and gives me the feeling of being very 'modern'. This is music of Y2K+. Tortoise has been name-dropped as a reference by others, because of the links to Chicago and the Thrill Jockey label. This time John McEntire fills the producer's chair, but there's a distance between the music of Pit er Pat and Tortoise's instrumental soundscapes. If so I'd say Pit er Pat are nearer Sea and Cake's sound 'terrain' or 'territory'. If I was to cull some references, Stereolab (or Stereolab/My Bloody Valentine 'offspring' Snowpony - for those of you who remember them) is quite clearly one band to mention. Or maybe Stereolab mixed with Blonde Redhead. Pit er Pat are quite drums-and-bass-driven, with sparse but important flakes of piano/organ/keyboard.

Pyramids opens with its first monster, Brain Monster, which isn't monstrous or scary in any way but a wide-stretched arrangement. In the second monster, "Time Monster", time itself is the monster. "Time doesn't care / makes no decisions / they have already been made / It just moves round the circle / as it always has and always will / Reminding you in it's stableness / of your own temporality / your brief life / your dying / the world didn't notice you lived at all", the lyric goes. A fatalistic voyage, eh? The song itself is quite light-footed and delicate sounding, in fact like many of Pit er Pat's tracks are. That said their songs are also quite rhythm-filled (Butchy is a great drummer), without bursting with power. In a way they sound like an electronica version of the band Espers. The long instrumental "Swamp" is cool and chilling, working really well as a recorded piece. Other favourite tracks are "Seasick (Hang Ten)", "No Money = No Friend" and "Moon Angel". I get this feeling of the whole album being a bit too much. Make sure to have smaller portions at a time. Pyramids are not easy listening.

So far I prefer Shakey, but maybe not for long, after I'll be giving Pyramids several more chances. If you get the chance to see Pit er Pat live, don't hesitate.

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