Pivot – O Soundtrack My Heart (Warp/Inertia)

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Where to begin? I guess where Pivot do – with some scratching around amongst the clunky debris of their various noise machines, some soothing jazz guitar chords and angelic, yet increasingly uneasy strains of wordless vocals. A minute and a half later and BANG! No doubt you’ve heard ‘In The Blood’ already. Here it establishes the compositional yang statement to album opener ‘October’s sketchy, improvised ying. And there is Pivot’s O Soundtrack My Heart in a couple of sentences. Thankfully, that leaves a lot of territory for the band to cover, and cover it they do.

You’d probably have to consider Pivot a post-rock band – they mix glitchy electronics with live playing in the form of instrumental music. But compared to this, most post-rock really is insipid and in search of ideas. Pivot have no problem coming up with those and deploy them artfully. Mars Volta-esque guitar and drum stabs in the title track, Blade Runner synths in ‘Fool In The Rain’, twittering glitch-electro rhythms in ‘Sweet Memory’, hints at some of their drum’n’bass roots in ‘Nothing Hurts Machine’. The disparate elements of the different band members’ other work – Laurence Pike’s experimental jazz with Triosk and by himself, Dave Miller’s techno, side projects with Prefuse 73, Qua and Jan Jelenick – all inform what’s happening here, but the results come out in a mesh of textures and melodies which belong to none but themselves. The band aren’t scared to let fly, with the drums, in particular, often huge, but also give any bedroom laptop producer a run for their money (see the opening section of ‘Love Like I’). This blend of intimacy and extroversion is euphoric. Warmly human but reaching for the heavens. This is repeated in the manner in which programming feels so natural a part of the sound. Perhaps it’s the skill of the musicians in being able to play like machines, perhaps it’s the ever evolving humanness of the sequencing – but they don’t contrast each other – they, again, blend into a solid mesh of forward momentum, gathering in any and all particles of sound along the way.

Interesting rhythms and atmospheres are good for dancefloors, but what makes Pivot so successful when working in an album mode, is their ability to create hooks. They do this in traditional manners, such as with guitar or synth riffs (see ‘Sing, You Sinners’) but are also able to do it in less traditional ways – just listen to those snare triplets in ‘Didn’t I Furious’. By burning those elements into the synapses, Pivot reel you in and make their neverending explorations of sound all the more rewarding.

I gave away my bias towards Pivot in a review for the lead-in EP a month or so ago. The album confirms everything hinted at there and then has plenty more to add. O Soundtrack My Heart is going to feature on many best-of lists at the end of the year and has the potential to become a landmark Australian album. With the backing of new label, Warp, hopefully that will also be translated into much larger fan bases worldwide, because this is music of the highest quality and deserves that sort of platform.

Adrian Elmer

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About Author

Adrian Elmer is a visual artist, graphic designer, label owner, musician, footballer, subbuteo nerd and art teacher, who also loves listening to music. He prefers his own biases to be evident in his review writing because, let's face it, he can't really be objective.

6 Comments

  1. Yep, this is one muscular album. I tweeted early on that it was like Van Halen meets Vangelis, and is quite a big departure from the the first Pivot album and also all their respective side projects.

  2. Didn’t I Furious is wonderful! The rest sounds like an 80s film soundtrack. Van Halen meets Vangelis is actually a good description, but do you mean that’s a good thing?

  3. Its intentionally ambiguous . . . I do miss some of the lightness of touch that was in some of the Triosk material, earlier Pivot, and Richard and Laurence’s live work with Flanger.

  4. Yeah I think it’s a shame that they’ve gone for a really “rock”, almost dumbed-down approach for NuPivot, and I miss the subtlety they used to have. That said, there’s a lot of nice little touches and details there on further listening, and it’s really growing on me. Gonna listen again tomorrow with attentive ears…

  5. Chris Downton on

    This is a really great piece of work which keeps revealing new things every time I listen to it…just fabulous