Pattern Is Movement's The (Im)Possibility of Longing
Travis Johnson
3/25/2004 11:10:01 AM

Philadelphia’s Pattern is Movement are recording geeks. We’re lucky for it, too, as the band’s nerdhood and hard work pay off nicely on its first full length, The (Im)Possibility of Longing. The album is a bit like a puzzle, comprised of glimpses, fragments, and passages that seem to assemble a logical if enigmatic account of some post-apocalyptic character’s spiritual quest for belonging.

Pattern is Movement, who from what I can tell, borrow their name from the T.S. Elliott poem, Burnt Norton, documents on its website many of the labor intensive recording techniques employed to create Longing’s delicate web of sound. There are doubtlessly many homegrown math rock bands out there, doing their thing, and advancing the game. This quintet makes its home comfortably in the heart of that experimental spirit. Elusive, mathematical melodies are woven from sweeping arpeggios and cryptic lyrics, often climaxing in one-chord stereophonic crescendos filled with swelling, reversed cymbals, panning harmonies, and affirmations of hellish solitude.

The opener, “Non Servium,” makes use of the aforementioned handiwork, garnishing the mix with the soft sound of cascading water. “I Should Be Leaving” succeeds with stimulating layers of two-chord rhythmic patterns, paired against melodious fingerpicked overdubs. “Gunsmith” rocks a little harder, announcing itself with menacing guitar furor before diving back into PIM’s trademark intricate, numerical patchwork.

A nice set of headphones reveals the tedious nature of the recording on “Julius,” featuring clever guitar interplay and nice stereo channeling. The two separate tracks are just dissimilar enough to heighten the aesthetic of the already contrasted panning sound. “They are so confused, it’s them that can’t see,” sings Andrew Thiboldeaux, effectively portraying the obtuse outlook of the antisocial.

“Pika Doun” may be the standout track, best exemplifying the band’s meticulous, labor-of-love style recording. “Pika” contains few words (“too bright to see, too loud to hear”), but affects the listener deeply when he or she realizes we’re not dealing with Pete Townsend, but more likely with the mother-of-all-bombings. The track is well-served by its sense of immediacy, and is brilliantly followed by the sense-gathering “War Interlude,” a headphone masterpiece narrated by the voices of digital flutes and cellos. The tale reaches its dramatic peak on the regretful “Icarus,” before gliding down mournfully on the wings of the finale, “Postlude.”

Not everyone will to enjoy PIM’s tales of doom and loss, nor will they appreciate the band’s steadfast dedication to its sonic collage making. Fans of the math rock genre, however, should pick up a copy of this intelligent, full-length debut. Oh, and word on the street is that it’s one hell of an engaging live show as well.


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