Play One Note

Psychedelic music blog covering psychedelic, folk, drone, metal, and all other forms of out music.

Posts tagged with ‘p.g. six’

P.G. Six – Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites

April 7, 2010

p.g. six parlor tricks and porch favoritesParlor Tricks and Porch Favorites is the first album by folk musician Pat Gubler, who records under the name P.G. Six.  In 2001, when the album was released, Gubler was in seminal free folk/noise folk/improv folk collective Tower Recordings.  They were a formidable outfit that released an indeterminate number of albums in a wide array of traditional and non-traditional formats, as bands of their shamanic ilk (Vibracathedral Orchestra, Charalambides, Sunburned Hand of the Man, Jackie-O Motherfucker, et. al) are wont to do.  Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites is at once an extension of the avant-folk themes Gubler pursued in Tower Recordings and a welcome respite from his primary concern’s cluttered clatter.

It is, above all, an album of hushed moments, of quietly contemplative beauty.  And it’s all complemented perfectly by Gubler’s singular voice, which manages to be entirely arresting while remaining incredibly limited.  To compare it to any other set of pipes is probably a misstep on my part, but for point of reference, imagine Calexico singer Joey Burns, sans nasality, with a bucolic lilt.  (Pretty specific, no?  I’m trying here.)  That may not sound that special, but Gubler’s abstracted, crystalline arrangements multiply the calming effect of his vocals, rendering them wholly hypnotic.

And this music is, absolutely, crystalline and hypnotic.  The hushed, circular guitar picking of “Unteleported Man” creates finely tuned and enveloping figures.  Chiming overlays of harp and washes of droning flutes and reeds act as counterpoints, at one point interrupting the guitar playing.  Gubler gently hums along.  That’s it.  But for over six minutes, the effect is completely entrancing.  “Go Your Way” might be both more abstracted and more lovely, featuring mellow flutters and trills on a harp and subdued lilting by Gubler for a good four minutes.  Stately bodrhan-esque drumming joins in for another four.  And when I refer to harp playing here, this isn’t Joanna Newsom-level stuff here.  This is absolutely sublime work.

Compared to his subsequent album, 2004’s The Well of Memory, Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites is more of a piece, sporting a much more unified sound from beginning to end, and lacking the highlights and missteps of his sophomore work.  (I really, really don’t want to get into his third solo album, Slightly Sorry, but I feel more and more like I should.)  Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites is pastoral and seemingly effortlessly intricate.  It’s underrated.  It’s beautiful.

2 Comments on P.G. Six – Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites

P.G. Six and Intuitive Virtuosity

March 31, 2010

p.g. six

(via http://www.myspace.com/pgsixband)

It’s fair to say that I listen to the music of Pat Gubler, who records solo material under the P.G. Six name, as frequently as the output of any other artist.  Obviously, there are those I hold in higher regard, and there are those who I pay more lip service to.  I’m not about to spend my time taking Gubler’s singularly eerie and comforting recordings and holding them toe-to-toe with, say, Tom Waits’s artistry.  Let’s be honest–that would be unfair.  What I do want to point out is the absolutely arresting and enveloping atmosphere Gubler is consistently able to conjure up.  In my five years of listening to P.G. Six and Tower Recordings (his previous primary concern, a collaboration with another gut-level, if considerably messier, songwriter in Matt Valentine), I have never once gotten tired of dipping into his entirely submersive sound.

The way he achieves his highly distinctive aura is by striking a balance between restraint and filligree, affording every instrument played and every line sung a finely wrought sense of craft.  This isn’t just me trying to squeeze out pretty words, here: P.G. Six’s songs ultimately set themselves apart with a clear sense of deliberate consideration.  It’s this sense that Gubler truly cares and has a clear, lovingly rendered goal in mind that helps make the first 5 1/2 minutes of “Quiet Fan for SK,” a cut off 2001’s Parlor Songs and Porch Favorites which consists of nothing but Gubler’s distracted, sparse guitar playing, an arresting, intimate moment, and not a mess of pointless meandering.  Of course, when that song finally opens up, patience is awarded with a quietly gorgeous–and carefully considered–unfolding.

This sense of craft is no less in effect when Gubler hews closer to traditional song structure.  The detail on the two-minute “The Divine Invasion,” also on Parlor Songs, is very reserved, but again, the muffled drumming and bits of reversed guitar seem like carefully mulled-over choices, and they contribute a rich and comforting depth to the song.

Even when Gubler shared songwriting duties with Valentine in Tower Recordings, his contributions proved uncommonly inviting and introspective, especially for what is allegedly largely improvised music.  His distinctievly nimble yet hypnotic guitar picking and languid voice are in full effect on “Ibiza Within You,” off of 2004’s The Galaxies’ Incredibly Sensual Transmission Field of the Tower Recordings.  These typically Gublerian elements, welded to the busy clatter and clutter associated with the Tower Recordings, make for one of my favorite songs of all time.

I’m writing a lot, but I might not be getting exactly what I want to say across.  Here it is: there is an inherently reassuring element to the way P.G. Six plays his instruments.  After all, plenty of obsessed studio wizards sweat over every detail and make music that leaves me cold.  In a way, it’s the sense that Gubler actually approaches songcraft intuitively, somehow knowing on a basal level what will work and what doesn’t, that draws me to him.  This is the “intuitive virtuosity” I referred to in the title of this piece.  There’s something deeply beautiful and warming to this thought: a man picks up a guitar and, without thinking, pulls finely rendered genius out of it.

_______________________

I’ll be posting discussions of P.G. Six’s first two song-based albums, Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites and The Well of Memory, soon.  Maybe I’ll also write a little bit about why his most recent effort, Slightly Sorry, was such a let-down.  (Edit, 4/23/10: I obviously did, and it is a little more than “a little bit.”  Oops!)  But I don’t want this space to be excessively negative, especially to someone whose music means so much to me overall.

No Comments on P.G. Six and Intuitive Virtuosity