Scott Solter is the go-to engineer and producer at San Francisco’s Tiny Telephone Studioes, as well as an experimental composer and soundscapist. This year’s One River, by Solter, was a work of piercing clarity and slow-moving beauty, almost devoid of conventional music forms like beat, key and melody. With this CD, Solter turns his considerable skills onto the work of Pattern Is Movement, a post-punk, post-melodic, post-modernist quarter out of Philadelphia. Solter recorded the band’s Stowaway in July 2005, then added copious amounts of—his words—machines, grease, razor and tape to the results. The album at hand gives us three of his reconfigured compositions, alongside their original Pattern Is Movement versions. “Witkin Dub” is a buzzing, distorted remake of “Two Voices for Two Sections.” “You! Glasstone” a mystic-aura’d alternative to the ethereal avant-pop of PIM’s “Talk Back to Me”. And “Blanched and Threshed Beats” strips the off-kilter harmonies of “Maple” down to rhythmic elements, with only occasional vocal flourishes. In all cases, Solter seems ready to squeeze any remaining pop easiness out of PIM’s already austere compositions, splicing dissonance and industrial abrasiveness into the floating harmonic structures. On headphones, the distortion approaches assault, fracturing sleek sounds into alienated buzz and hiss—you may even find yourself checking your speaker wires! Still, there’s an intellectual questing, a search for beauty beyond the conventional that makes Solter’s half work, even if it does make the fairly challenging PIM originals sound like radio-friendly pop.
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