[28 May 2004]
Pit Er Pat wants you to respect the organ. Over the years, you’ve become a little too dependent on the guitar player. There he is, look at him: he’s all sweaty, sipping a beer in between songs, what’s he ever done for you? You won’t even look over at the organ player for a second. She’s working her ass off, but you don’t care. Well, you should because Pit Er Pat’s got six songs on their new EP and not a single one features a guitar. What did you say? How will you know what to do? You say that you’re worried? Calm down. There’s a rhythm section. You’ll recognize the instruments: bass and drums. These guys are from Chicago, so the rhythms are kind of strange and jazzy. These are the kind of people who make art in their free time. Now, instead of a guitar, there’s an organ or an electric piano or keyboards. Call it whatever you want, you’re going to have to deal with it.
Emergency is the debut EP from this trio of experimental Midwesterners. Fay Davis-Jeffers plays the organ and handles the vocal duties with a healthy sense of Bjork-ian theatrics. Drummer Butchy Fuego has worked on projects with the like-minded high-art rockers in Neutral Milk Hotel and Need New Body; and bassist Rob Doran was a founding member of Alkaline Trio, for Christ’s sake.
The album’s first track, “Bog Man” is, oddly enough, a three act drama about an alienated young soldier and his encounter with a creature known as the “Bog Man.” As strange, and possibly overwrought, as that might sound, it is, in fact, rather pleasant. The organ introduces us to the proceedings with a tone straight from your last ride on the old time-y carousel. In the first act, we are introduced to the immature warrior. He is lonely and afraid of his new surroundings. One day on his march, the soldier comes upon the Bog Man and the story reaches its dramatic apex. The creature enters the picture on an evil wind. Drums roll across the landscape, and the bass and organ grumble their lowest notes. The soldier and Bog Man are locked in a deadly struggle. Then, all of a sudden, the Bog Man disappears without a trace and the piece ends with a more melodic flourish of multiple organ lines. It kind of makes your head spin, doesn’t it? I have a few questions about the Bog Man that I doubt I’ll ever get answered
The second track, “Emergency”, is much easier to grasp. The bass and drums open with a strong rhythm and the organ playing and singing are both more immediately insistent. About midway through there’s a nice transition: the organ starts to wind down and the song morphs into a transcendent passage of choral voices. The album’s most straight forward track is definitely “Too Many.” The organ playing is catchy and the finger-snap rhythm is accentuated by wood block and a goofy sax line. The repetitive multi-tracked vocals work well and are reminiscent of Broadcast or even Yo La Tengo. Of the album’s three remaining tracks, two are instrumentals. “Nick Those Prawns and Burn Them” is the better of the two. It’s a swell acid organ and drum solo number that plays like a soundtrack to a slowly melting filmstrip.
I’m not naïve. I know that you’re going to go running back to the guitar player as soon as this is over. All that the guys and girl in Pat Er Pat are hoping is that you might tell him all about the kind of weird, but kind of cool thing that you just heard.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/piterpat-emergency/