Saturday, 30 May 2015

Pulsing Primitive Motions Through Time's Fibre

It's well known that I am a big Primitive Motion fan. Since catching them at a show supporting New War in 2011, and picking up a Two Ellipsis cassette at one of the duo Leighton Craig's solo shows in early 2012, I tried to catch every Pri Mo show that found themselves playing out in the nooks and niches of Brisbane. Their Worlds Floating By LP of 2013 is still an understated minor masterpiece, which saw them elevated to the support slot of Godspeed! You Black Emperor's maiden Brisbane show. Their set last year supporting Ela Stiles was fantastic (even if the venue wasn't), and it culminated in them playing the Sonic Masala Fest.

So obviously I was going to be excited about the duo's new release on Bedroom Suck, Pulsating Time Fibre. With similar artwork to Worlds Floating By, it would seem that this is a genuine extension from what came before. And the entire back catalogue of Primitive Motion shows a continual adherence to and exploration of space and time. But take some time to immerse yourself in the album and you will see its uniqueness, even within the band's ubiquitous style. Firstly there is a stronger application of reverb apparent (to these ears at least) - but rather it being a lazy affectation, it augments the weightlessness, the edifying strictures in providing a repetitive motorik undercurrent to artful whims and languorous passages.

Primitive Motion have always been about creating something current, something of an essence that befits Craig and Sandra Selig's place in time - in fact most of their sets are never mapped out, never repeated - and repetition has always held a strong magnetic presence in their work, as is the case here. But with opener 'Bodies of the Placid Furnace', there is a darker sombreness that adds a layer of gravitas, promising something new. In fact this is the longest track on the A side by almost half - the glut of "tracks" here are mostly held to sub two minute lengths of time - reading more like shards of ideas, glimmering in the underbrush in the early dawn, gone before there is time to linger, ensuring that their cerebral nature remains intact but also wraithlike, a waking dream. 'Audible Darkness' is buoyed by more ebullient synth lines, Selig's singsong voice almost at Playschool levels of saccharine, yet the tactile melody here lives up to the song title. The ethereal dreamwave of 'Golden Light Clinic' is certainly back in the PriMo world of construction - the drum machine insistent yet unobtrusive, Selig's voice floating away - the 21st century Julee Cruise moment (and with Twin Peaks around the corner, not a moment too soon).  Songs like 'Nebula Lagoon' and 'Same Is The Same' are nursery rhymes in a gossamer prism, light refracted and rebuilt til frameworks coalesce, meld and melt; 'Slow Motion Time Release' has a more insistent beat that is obvious to previous fare, but is gone again before that rhythm is laid down and etched in stone. I particularly love the effervescence in tracks like 'Du Hattest Gerne', a track that is under a minute but feels radiated from within, and somehow the perfect length.

Things change for the last four songs. 'To Shape A Single Leaf', at 9 and a half minutes' length, is the longest song by five minutes. It is allowed the time and space to unfurl naturally, a muted sonorous piercing of the chrysalis before shimmering, searching synth lines emerge and cloak this transformation in atmospheric mystery. The overt Gothic turns in this song seem incongruous to everything that came before or since. It's a wonderful song, but its place here is as jarring as if they had laid a crust punk track down. But it does ease in the final triptych - 'Plant Me Deep', 'Coronet' and closer 'Spring Sky Window' - all exploratory songs of wondrous whimsy. 'Plant Me Deep' is Craig's moment to stand out front, his vocals a mystical mist that floats over an equally elliptical and elegant saxophone. It's a glorious song that transcends, well, everything. 'Coronet' manages that oft-tried but seldom-held tightrope walk of distorted drone and elegant instrumentation - there is a glistening purity maintained throughout that makes this just as a transcendental moment as the previous one. Then 'Spring Sky Window' hits and it is the one song that marries these two (in)distinct musical worlds of Pulsating Time Fibre together - the drum beat more insistent, the sax shining off shards of light.

It says a lot of Pulsating Time Fibre that I can find the tonal shifts noticeable, and even believe them out of place, yet still feel that this is a perfect album. As conflicting an idea that may be, I cannot fault these songs on their own; I fail to skip a single one; there is no restlessness or sense of listlessness here. Everything is as it should be, even if I feel I am not where I should be. That's my problem, not theirs. Immerse yourselves here.

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