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P.G. Six - Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites

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Artist: P.G. Six

Album: Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites

Label: Amish

Review date: Mar. 31, 2002

At this moment, a full-on and successful revival of British folk traditions from the 70s seems to be inevitable. Just as it did two years ago when Volkswagon hipped Nick Drake, just as it did last year when the NME hyped Badly Drawn Boy, and just as it did three months ago when Jim O’Rourke waxed fluffily about Chicago’s negligent ignorance to said traditions. Feh. Perhaps the reawakening of this sleepy style is so subtle that it can’t help but be pushed over by the Bright Eyeses and Elliot Smiths of the perpetually forlorn and disenchanted masses. Or perhaps it is simply destined to remain frozen at t-minus one for the rest of its time. That’s probably how the artists themselves would have it. Among these hushed few is Pat Gubler (aka P.G. Six), an upstate New York resident and a member of the equally enigmatic Tower Recordings entity. Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites, PG Six’s debut album, is rare indeed. Some parts are magnificently tender and luscious while others are unpleasantly raw and untreated, but overall it is nothing short of a delicacy.

Musical duties on Parlor Tricks are split between Gubler, who is responsible for everything melodic, and the omnibrilliant percussionist/producer Tim Barnes. While Barnes’ (who has recently been heard on recent albums by Jim O’Rourke, the Silver Jews and Pullman) drumming and sound-generating is characteristically top-notch, it is Gubler’s gentle melodies, sparse sense of beauty, and innovative instrumentation that make Parlor Tricks so successful. Gubler’s songs tend to build and trail off slowly, but rarely do they do so to a point of frustration. On “Quiet Fan for SK,” Gubler puts on his Scott Tuma hat (and wears it well) as he eases through five full minutes of gorgeous guitar meandering before the song arrives at its full instrumentation.

Like many of PG Six’s songs, “The Divine Invasion” is more like two songs segued into one. Gubler’s vocals, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, are agonizingly sincere and haunting as he begins with “Last night / I dreamed / Our rough rural god / Came down / To throw his weight around.” Gubler’s voice is delicate (not unlike Nick Drake’s), and while it is far from confident, it is surprisingly full and sincere. After two short verses (in one short minute), voice gives way as a wash of backwards guitar slowly builds to engulf the ongoing acoustic guitar. In two minutes, PG Six achieves more than Bright Eyes could hope for in an entire album. Other moments and songs on Parlor Tricks are not quite so successful, as Gubler and Barnes seem to get swallowed up by their massive instrument collections (28 between the two of them / 9 songs = a lot). Many of the more psychedelic moments, some of which contain things like flute and harp solos, are tonally irritating in spite of their unflinchingly striking melodies. However, these moments are infrequent and overshadowed by Parlor Tricks’ fine and delicate taste.

By Sam Hunt

Other Reviews of P.G. Six

The Well of Memory

Music from the Sherman Box Series and Other Works

Slightly Sorry

Starry Mind

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Find out more about Amish

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