Make Me Love You
ust three tracks in and Sydney quintet Pivot’s long awaited debut album has well and truly justified fans’ keen hopes.
The third track, “Incidental Backloth,” begins with a repetitive throb somewhere between the click-clack of a train and the tick-tick of a wristwatch. Pivot have long been compared to Tortoise, and drummer Laurence Pike’s factory-floor groove justifies that. But the light smattering of hi-hats and a sad, warm guitar line inject emotion the Chicago-ites have rarely managed since Millions Now Living Will Never Die.
Neal Sutherland’s bass kicks in at three minutes: it’s a relief and feels like something of a resolution. Laurence’s drumming gets heavier too; his degenerating rhythms and his brother Richard’s programming send the track into a tailspin of psychotic intensity.
Describing electronic music as a soundtrack is so ’95, but the images evoked by Pivot’s music are impossible to ignore. I can almost see it on the movie screen: sick-in-the-head lead character who you’ve come to understand, even like, but he’s spiralling out of control, hitting out and desperate for understanding.
The finale of destroyed melancholy is as euphoric as it is unsettling. After that, anything would be anti-climactic, the track is so tightly packed with possibilities and twisting, turning with ideas that it’s tempting to dismiss the rest of the album.
Pivot formed six years ago, but its members have collaborated so widely that it sometimes feels like a bit of a super-group: recording as Triosk for Leaf, collaborating with Jan Jelinek for ~Scape and traveling through Europe in Burnt Friedman’s group Flanger. Indeed, it is difficult to see why it’s taken them so long to get around to a debut, the response to early EPs—really just lovingly packaged demo’s—was critical acclaim and high rotation on community and national radio.
Compared to Triosk’s excellent debut last year, Make Me Love You is a much more open-sounding affair. And although it grew out of a series of improv sessions it rarely feels loose or aimless; it holds together well, the flow rooted in songs and moods, rhythm and ideas. It lies somewhere between Private Presses-era DJ Shadow, Tortoise’s debut and the epic quality of Squarepusher (e.g. “Tundra 4”) and yet somewhere entirely different; an album with a similar breadth of intent is John Tejada’s I Am Not A Gun on City Centre Offices. The musical ebb and flow is clearest on the tidal wash of “La Mer,” a flowing guitar washed in a cloud of glitchy production, sound samples, and a spray of feather-light hi-hats, which flow seamlessly into next track, “Pivot Voltron.”
I was initially tempted to dismiss Make Me Love You as failing the promise of Incidental Backcloth. But with time, it was the mournful electro of “Kirsten Dunst” that played in my mind. Or the ecstatic rush of soft focus drum’n’bass on “Montecore”; four minutes in everything stops, just like the moment in a fireworks shower when the explosions of light and sound stop and you think, “Is that it?” All of sudden there’s another explosion and you’re right back in the middle of the show.
Reviewed by: Matthew Levinson
Reviewed on: 2005-08-29