Album review: PVT – ‘Church With No Music’ (Warp)

Album review: PVT – ‘Church With No Music’ (Warp)


Not letting a name change set them back, the Aussie trio are pushing synthy post-rock into new shapes

We’ve seen some of the best minds of our generation destroyed by boredom. Processed beats, regurgitated ideas and tired talent have all claimed their victims when we weren’t looking.

Take [a]MIA[/a]. Sure, her neverending paranoia and sheer gobbiness makes her a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma – topped off with a generous helping of puzzle. But [b]Maya Arulpragasam[/b]’s third offering didn’t quite hit the spot the rest of us thought she’d be aiming for. Of course it was good. It just wasn’t great.

You can’t help but think that if MIA had enlisted the help of [a]PVT[/a], instead of her usual-rent-a-subjects, ‘[b]///Y/[/b]’ may have been the daring record that everyone was hoping for. It’s pretty hard to deny that the two acts are deploying the same reference points: suicide, electronic experimentalism, general weirdness. What is different is how they’ve used them and what they’ve done with them.

Much like Delia Derbyshire during her BBC Radiophonic Workshop days, this Australian three-piece – recently forced to change their name from Pivot by another band of that name – are taking sounds they would find every day, whether it be from musical objects or not, and combining them with great ideas borrowed from bands of yore to make them something exciting and altogether new (much like Arulpragasam did on ‘[b]Kala[/b]’).

[b]Richard Pike[/b]’s Alan Vega-inspired vocal on ‘[b]Church With No Magic[/b]’ and his Jimmy Eat World falsetto on ‘Window’ showcase the sense of endless possibility and experimentation underlying the album, the follow-up to 2008’s ‘[b]O Soundtrack My Heart[/b]’.

Pike’s yawning insouçiance on ‘[b]Circle Of Friends[/b]’ lulls the listener into a false sense of security, as do his mellow Gregorian chants on ‘[b]Crimson Swan[/b]’ – just before the track builds into a Sunn O))) powerhouse of dulled psychedelia and hypnotic, synth-powered stoicism.

The countless homages to Derbyshire – within ‘[b]Community[/b]’, ‘[b]Light Up Bright Fires[/b]’ and ‘[b]Waves And Radiation[/b]’ – allow chinks of light to penetrate PVT’s dark exploration of [a]Suicide[/a]-style industrial cynicism and [a]Aphex Twin[/a]’s trademark mix of electronic schizophrenia and melancholia, recaptured with striking success on ‘[b]The Quick Mile[/b]’.

But what PVT really prove here is that it’s not what or who you know – however MIA might sometimes make it seem so – but how you use what you know that achieves memorable results. PVT don’t cower at the feet of their influences so much as stand shoulder to shoulder with them.

They may be Pivot no more, but they’re turning heads – and for all the right reasons.

[b]Ash Dosanjh[/b]

[i]What do you think of the album? Let us know by posting a comment below.[/i]

Click here to get your copy of PVT’s ‘Church With No Music’ from the Rough Trade shop.