Pivot – ‘O Soundtrack My Heart’

August 31, 2008 § Leave a comment

Published: The Vine, August 25, 2008.

Pivot
O Soundtrack My Heart
(Warp/Inertia)

It’s no secret that Pivot are on the cusp of something huge. Having signed to luminary London imprint Warp Records earlier this year, the Sydney and Perth-born trio have been fed back into the Australian indie market with all the bells and whistles attached – verbose press releases, arty video clips and a suite of promotional band portraits to die for. Whether or not their much-hyped second album O Soundtrack My Heart was any good seemed almost incidental; this was a band that suddenly had prestige.

It wasn’t like they came out of nowhere. Back in 2005, long-awaited debut Make Me Love You – released through boutique Melbourne imprint Sensory Projects – was the talk of various Australian towns. The then quintet’s fabrics of subtle texture, melody and instrumentation pealed with all the measured precision of Chicago-era post-rock and avant-jazz, garnering glowing press and sitting atop best-of lists country-wide.

But within a matter of months, brothers Laurence and Richard Pike – the drummer and guitarist who comprise the creative core of the group – had lost three members and gained one, in London-based Perth laptop kid Dave Miller. Pivot had been turned upside down.

With or without the Warp calling card, it only takes two tracks for O Soundtrack My Heart to reconcile the group’s recomposition. While opening overture ‘October’ creaks and echoes to life with a kind of spectral tension, first single ‘In the Blood’ explodes – shattering with menacing synth lines, razor-sharp guitar hooks and hammering live and programmed percussion intricacies. It’s a happy dichotomy, and one that – the further you delve into O Soundtrack My Heart – comes to embody Pivot’s redefinition. Indeed, where Make Me Love You shimmered with instrumental exactitude and subtle throws of tension and release, O Soundtrack basks in something much more slippery and ephemeral: freedom.

Across eleven sketches, the trio visit hook-heavy experimentalism, searing electronic abrasions, and plaintive post-rock-referenced arrangements. There are highlights aplenty. The interstellar synth dynamics and guitar dramatisations of the epic title track, the wondrous melodic layers of ‘Sweet Memory’ and the rugged sonic assault of ‘Didn’t I Furious’ all make for powerful moments. The masterful rhythmic undercurrents of ‘Sing, You Sinners’, arcing melody and jittering percussion of ‘Love Like I’ and atmosphere-drenched hooks of ‘Nothing Hurts Machine’ add another more contemplative flavour.

It’s a thrilling collection, engendered with a kind of raw looseness, personality and emotion that so many instrumental records – including Make Me Love You – manage to snuff with an overemphasis on technique and navel-gazing cleverness. There’s a distinct and crucial thematic and emotional conduit running through this record.

While musically dextrous, O Soundtrack My Heart is never verbose for its own sake. Accomplished sound scientists like Battles could learn a thing or two.

Dan Rule

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