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to kill a petty bourgeoisie - The Patron
'The Patron' is the debut album from the gorgeously named duo To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie, and is for me the perfect Kranky record. The Chicago-based label made a name for themselves with their subtle take on post rock in the 1990s, and since then have gone on to practically define the scene while taking on (and conquering) anything else they felt like doing. Guitarist and vocalist Jehna Wilhelm and electronics man Mark McGee clearly share this love of post rock with their label, but thankfully with their debut album they manage to move the genre on into territories as yet uncharted. Filling their skewed pop songs with noise and electrical excesses they make pop music sound like skeletons from the hydra's teeth, and manage to sit themselves somewhere in-between the glorious library-lounge music of Broadcast, the percussive jazz of Tortoise and the mysterious beauty of Portishead while at all times sounding so definitely Kranky. Take the eight minute 'Long Arms' for example, which begins with sub-aquatic drones and electronic manipulations not unlike something you'd expect to hear from the 12k stable, but over time Wilhelm's dusty, reverb-drenched vocals begin to hiss and coo and a deep melancholic soul is brought to the table. It's almost as if Julee Cruise's voice is being layered slowly into the background sound from Eraserhead, and while they might not have intended to To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie have probably made the most convincing electronic album of the year. The beats might be laptop-assisted but they never feel overpowering, and the compositions might be synthesizer assisted but rather than lie back and let the electronics do the work this is devilishly complex and forged by the hands of true masters. There's plenty here that reminds me of other things, but I'm never reminded of something precise, it's never one influence I hear, rather it's a whole plethora, and the duo have by doing this created something original in its scope. 'The Patron' is an album that manages to sound as convincing and murky as Portishead without ever succumbing to the trappings of trip hop, and an album which sounds as experimental and forward thinking as Tortoise without ever disappearing up the wrong end of the pipe. A gorgeous and expansive record, the album is yet another reason why Kranky is such an essential label right now... huge recommendation.