Patois Counselors: Proper Release 12"

Patois Counselors: Proper Release 12"


Tags: · 10s · indie · melodic · north carolina · post-punk · recommended
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Here we have it. PATOIS COUNSELORS and their debut album Proper Release. Eleven slashes, eleven perfectly nervous trips to the well. And this North Carolinian band has landed in a welcoming hangar—New York City’s always-adventurous Ever/Never Records. It is readily apparent from lead-off cut “Disconnect Notice” that Patois Counselors bends towards the arch of Pere Ubu’s storied catalog, but instead of tripping on cracked street waves, they are on their front porch watching the sunset with a lukewarm beer clutched tight and wondering, “What next?” No Cleveland junk sunset for Patois Counselors, there’s a different kind of graveyard haunting these woods. Patois Counselors have given us an embarrassment of riches for a confederacy of dunces. The album title comes off as ironic maybe even a hint of the erotic, but to interpret any manner of cynical bluff into PC’s full frontal attack is to admit a lack of imagination on the listener. Don’t let Patois Counselors’ easy Southern charm distract you from the detailed, focused intensity of its sound. Guitars buzz and clang in queasy unison, synths channel inherently melodic cicada hum, many of the songs containing noisy interludes streaked with melody. “Last Heat” vacillates menacingly, as “Get Excitement” slinks around with the pent-up humid sway of deep summer. “Repeat Offender” smacks you back awake with rapidfire Devo moves and yet another chorus to write home about. “Making Appts” takes those sideways electronics steps that Parquet Courts occasionally indulges in and teaches it the proper dance protocols. A track like “The Modern Station” is as up-to-now as you can be in this media blitz age—right-angle riffs rub up against double-tracked vocals, breaking down the future-modern dichotomy. But the craziest trick Patois Counselors pulls off is closing out the album with possibly its finest track, achieving a true zenith. “Target Not A Comrade” retains all the previous ten songs’ post-punk tension while seamlessly welding it to what could be the effortless pop shimmer of Psychedelic Furs.

Our take: Debut album from this group from Charlotte, North Carolina; they had an earlier 7” on Negative Jazz, but this album finds a more appropriate home (in my opinion, at least) on Ever/Never Records. I think that the first thing I heard about Patois Counselors is that they covered “Couldn’t Get Ahead” by the Fall, and you can still hear a lot of the Fall’s golden era (basically, everything between Perverted by Language and The Frenz Experiment) in their sound, as well as synth-infused modern bands inspired by said records (I think they share a lot of their sonic pallette with Whatever Brains, but there are probably more nationally-known acts that would be a better frame of reference for someone not from North Carolina). It’s funny, though, because for all of the sonic similarities to the Fall in particular, Patois Counselors don’t really sound like the Fall to me. Their music communicates very different feelings than what I get from any of the Fall records that I’ve spent time with. The Fall have this way of wandering around a song like they could honestly not give a fuck whether they ever find the hook or not (though they almost always do), but Proper Release feels meticulously, almost relentlessly composed. Not only do Patois Conselors want to find the hook, they want to find all of the hooks, and they want to get them all in the song. I have no idea how it was actually put together, but it doesn’t sound to me like the songs came out of a band playing in a room, but rather a composer sitting with a ream of staff paper or a producer with a laptop, a hacked copy of ProTools, and a 3-day weekend at their full disposal. In other words, every moment of every track is jam-packed with stuff, stuff that seems labored over, considered and reconsidered, moved around, then moved back again with the manic, introverted energy of an obsessive compulsive person rearranging their furniture. Even the lyrics are like that… songs like “So Many Digits” seem like they might have started out as pop songs, but the moment of clarity that provides the emotional apex of a pop song has been deliberately obscured, worked and reworked into something more cryptic, even sinister. Maybe it’s because I just finished Gilles Deleuze’s book on Francis Bacon, but the songs remind me of one of Bacon’s canvases, which seem to start out as fairly conventional portraits, but are interrogated so meticulously and so compulsively that, as Deleuze says of Bacon’s portraits, the head becomes meat. Now that I’ve lost 99% of my readers, I’ll say that if you enjoy the density of ideas on records by artists like King Crimson, Kate Bush, Voivod, Enslaved, or Charles Mingus (is this the first time those artists have all been mentioned in the same breath?), but you also like loud and distorted guitars and synthesizers then let me introduce you to one of the most unique and exciting records you’re likely to hear for some time.