PVT: Artist You Should Know

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From KCRW DJ Mario Cotto:

WARPCD198 PackshotWith every new release from an artist, you anticipate shifts and aesthetic experiments to varying degrees. Sometimes they’re monumental and usher in a new era, sometimes they’re painful missteps that take an artist a while to recover from. But, every once and awhile, you get to witness the metamorphosis of an artist into what they are supposed to be.

Please allow me to introduce you to PVT, formerly known as Pivot. This Australian trio became a bit of a sensation in their homeland upon releasing their first album, which garnered them attention from Warp Records (who signed the band in 2008.)

They quietly released an EP and album on the label to some critical acclaim and attention from heavyweights like Yellow Magic Orchestra, Brian Eno, and Tortoise’s John McEntire (who went on to mix their Warp debut.) Despite this, their experimental post-rock sound went mostly unnoticed by American audiences. This lack of recognition married to a legal imbroglio over the band name made for what could’ve been a dooming perfect storm for the band.

But, if anything, they chose to turn it into a radical make or break moment so dramatic that it literally blew the vowels out of their name! Now there is PVT.

If their name is a cheeky exercise in minimalism, their sound is anything but. Their sound isn’t just “big” or “huge,” it is maximalist. Possibly to get noticed, possibly as a response to having to battle over their name and identity, they decided to build towering monoliths of sound and it suits them. They are putting it all out there, making themselves vulnerable by willing to experiment and lay bare all their influences. PVT’s vocalist Richard Pike has a clear, controlled voice that at times recalls Dave Gahan, Daryl Hall, or Edward Droste (of Warp label mates Grizzly Bear) but he never sounds parroty.

Musically, they borrow from everybody from Vangelis, Philip Glass, Bjork, to Warp label mates Boards of Canada and Clark. But, I think that their forebears are actually Tears for Fears, whose “Songs from the Big Chair” has a passionate maximalism that still sounds gorgeous and remarkably fresh 25 years later.

And, although it is a much more intimate affair, PVT’s new Warp release “Church with No Magic” has that quality. There may not be packed stadium shows in South America for them…but in 25 years they will always have their truly impressive “Church with No Magic.”


Mario Cotto