released August 10th, 2010
from the album - Window
from all music
Dark experimental instrumental post-rock band Pivot were formed in 1999 by brothers Laurenz Pike (drums, percussion) and Richard Pike (guitar, production), but soon ballooned to a five-piece band with the additions of Adrian Klumpes (keyboard), Neal Sutherland (bass), and Dave Bowman (turntables). It may be de rigueur to compare instrumental music to film soundtracks, but partly inspired by Vangelis, that was exactly the sound Pivot were aiming for. They shut themselves away for two years of regular three-hour rehearsal sessions, and the improvised demos they recorded during this time were packaged as EPs, which managed to capture air time on the radio. Their first album took roughly three years from the start of recording to its release, partly due to the band's perfectionism, but presumably also because of the number of side projects they were participating in. Both Pike brothers played with Flanger, and Laurenz Pike must have been particularly busy, at times being a member of Triosk along with Adrian Klumpes, as well as being involved with two of Scott Herren's projects, Prefuse 73 and Savath & Savalas, and also forming Roam the Hello Clouds with laptop musician Dave Miller. In 2005, Miller was invited to join the band, which then became a three-piece consisting of just Miller and the Pike brothers. The album Make Me Love You was finally released that year. Their second (and less delayed) album, O Soundtrack My Heart, was recorded in Chicago and mixed by John McEntire of Tortoise; the band signed to Warp in 2008 to earn it an international release. By the time the group's album Church with No Magic arrived in 2010, Pivot dropped the vowels to become PVT.
Church with No Magic reveals that in the two years between this album and O Soundtrack My Heart, PVT went through some significant changes. The most obvious is the alteration of the band’s name (thanks to a legal scuffle with a U.S. band also called Pivot), but the addition of Richard Pike's vocals to PVT’s mix of post-rock, electronica, and prog is almost as immediate. For the most part, it’s a change for the better, adding focus to the band’s overflowing sounds and ideas. Pike’s singing balances “Light Up Bright Fires”’ tension between icy electronics and explosive live drums, his harmonies suggesting flames shooting high into the sky; he snarls and whispers on the bleak, incantatory title track, which suggests an unholy union of Suicide and The The; and his baritone grounds the decaying industrial beauty of “Crimson Swan” in post-punk brooding. Despite all the changes, PVT remain committed to their experimental roots. Even on “Window,” arguably Church with No Magic's most accessible track, the band can’t help but throw in subtle tempo shifts that subvert the song’s brisk pace. Elsewhere, “Community” and “Waves and Radiation”'s rippling analog synths show that they love Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis as much as they did on their earlier albums. PVT’s prog leanings come to the fore on “The Quick Mile,” a showcase for drummer Laurenz Pike's formidable skills and a reminder that despite all their muscle, this band is first and foremost cerebral. At times they can be too aloof, as on the surprisingly distant “Circle of Friends,” though they use this remoteness well on “Timeless”' sci-fi romance. Despite their changes, PVT remain as hard to pin down as ever, and Church with No Magic is admirable, if not exactly embraceable.
1 Community Miller, Pike 1:42
2 Light Up Bright Fires Miller, Pike 4:13
3 Church with No Magic Miller, Pike 3:54
4 Crimson Swan Miller, Pike 4:37
5 Window Miller, Pike 3:02
6 The Quick Mile Miller, Pike 4:26
7 Waves and Radiation Miller, Pike 2:53
8 Circle of Friends Miller, Pike 3:44
9 Timeless Miller, Pike 5:31
10 Only the Wind Can Hear You Miller, Pike 3:56