Post-rock, in its many forms, often contains a strong emphasis on improvised elements. In contrast, it’s taken The Pattern Theory almost two years of recording in a disused office space in Berlin to perfect and record their ideas. No matter, the attention to detail is clear for all to see but just is apparent is their gift for instrumental music with a strong emotive pull.
It begins like an album should end with a swelling drone and an exhausted crash of percussion; as if we’re witnessing the denoument of a rock band’s live performance. Then a nagging guitar melody and some warm keyboard textures kick in. ‘Ideas Of Fun’ follows next and contains clear nods to both jazz and funk but its aura of nocturnal loveliness is its main calling card. Meanwhile, ‘Chevrons’ represents a pleasant deviation in easy listening terrirtory a la The Sea And Cake. There are moments when the record does lose its way (‘Bell Curves’ is repetitive when it should be gripping) but most of the time the trio capture a sense of exquisite melancholia as on stunning end couplet ‘Names For Places’ and ‘Adaptive Expectations’.
At a time when the genre is over-populated with soundalikes, The Pattern Theory bring out the best qualities in post-rock. This album is full of complex key changes but its quiet, restrained approach harks back to a time when Tortoise and Labradford (and the lesser-known This Is A Process Of A Still Life) focussed on human feeling and addictive melody as much as they did on experimentation.
Tortoise, This Is A Process Of A Still Life