Scott Solter Plays Pattern Is Movement: Canonic

Canonic is the kind of release that immediately splits its listeners into two camps: those familiar with the album on which it's based, and those who aren't. Full disclosure: I'm one of the latter—clearly my loss—so I can only imagine the degree to which Canonic differs from Pattern Is Movement's 2005 Stowaway and therefore won't hazard a guess as to how the discs compare. The back-story? After engineer/producer Scott Solter constructed Stowaway in accordance with the group's wishes, Pattern Is Movement (Andrew Thiboldeaux, Corey Duncan, Dan McLain, Chris Ward) handed the tapes back a year later with the idea that Solter could do with them as he pleased (hence the unwieldy mouthful ‘Scott Solter Plays Pattern Is Movement'). The producer tore the tracks apart (“obliterated them” is PIM's own description) and re-assembled them in radically altered form (tellingly, the liner notes credit Solter with ‘machines, razor, tape'), with the result an all-analogue re-invention generated with nothing new added to the original source material.

Solter turns dubmeister here—scratching, elongating, echoing, and shredding the sounds. A vocal appears now and then but essentially the material's stretched into heavily abstracted hip-hop and mutant dub instrumentals. “Blanched and Threshed” starts the disc off strongly with a simple theme that burns itself into your skull, especially when chanted by an a cappella Thiboldeaux choir (“I love it when you come in / Standing naked in the door”). Like a Wagnerian leitmotif, the theme re-appears as a newly-mangled stutter in “Abrade the Beat” while the vocal choir also pushes its way into “In Glasstone.” Also memorable is “Witkin Dub” which owes as much to Led Zeppelin as King Crimson with its lumbering bass-drums groove invoking “Kashmir” during the tune's heaviest moments. (And can we take a moment to applaud Sedaqa Publishing and Design Group and Stumptown Printers for the distinctive packaging?)

January 2007