Admittedly, when I first listened to Pictureplane’s sophomore album Thee Physical I didn’t know what exactly to think about it. I missed out on 2009′s Dark Rift leaving me to navigate the cacophony of electronic influences found on Thee Physical without any sort of contextual bearing. But there is so much going on in this album musically that there really isn’t much need to clutter the mind with themes, comparisons, and deep insights.
What Travis Egedy, the mastermind behind Pictureplane, has managed to do with his second major label album is create a sound that’s distinction is borne of its diversity. In my cursive research for this article I found descriptors ranging from gothic to dark wave to synth-pop and all of these have some element of truth to them. There is certainly a very progressive edge to the album but at the same time it hearkens back to the days of more innocent electronic music. Back when artists unapologetically used synthesizers and computers to make music that was new, and fresh, and fun. After 20 or so years of that there seems now to be a need to dress up electronic music with ridiculously complex composition, a featured hip hop artist, or a deep, resounding message that Pictureplane just doesn’t seem to have any interest in.
The only thing remotely resembling a motif on Thee Physical is that of the blurring of gender and sexual roles and the convergence of man and technology. Just look at some of the song titles. “Body Mod”, “Sex Mechanism”, “Post Physical”, “Techno Fetish”, and “Trancegender” all allude to some combination of humanity and machinery. None of this comes across as preachy (or coherent, really) and these recurring ideas are more a sign of the zeitgeist than any sort of message that Egedy is trying to push. Clearly, the album struck a chord with some listeners as a post from Pictureplane’s Twitter feed just last night read “A lesbian just bought me a drink, kissed me, and told me her girlfriend fucks her with a strap on to my music”.
Thee Physical is by no means a seminal work in the history of electronic music but it is certainly worth a listen. It comes across as more of a playlist than an album and the whole thing could easily keep a dance floor moving for the duration. The second half of the record does get a little murky, and without a real standout track to be found a certain monotony can set in. Nonetheless, Pictureplane has created another solid album and has definitely elevated his status again in the electro world.
Tags: dylan rayburn, Pictureplane - Thee Physical review, Reviews