Thank You: Pathetic Magic
Thank You's first recording since losing drumming force-of-nature/band centerpiece Elke Wardlaw two-odd years ago, Pathetic Magic delivers a scant two new songs, packaged with three remixes from Baltimore luminaries Dan Deacon, Jason Urick (with Joe Williams), and Zomes' arch-minimalist Asa Osborne. As anyone that's been in a room with a Thank You live show since can attest, the idea is still basically the same: Thank You rests on a creative push and pull--a bending and flexing of sorts--between powerful rhythms and subtler melodic accents via voice, guitar, and electric organ. The result is a kind of simmering exuberant anarchy--and perhaps even more so with new drummer Emmanuel Nicolaidis' more playful, loud and loose style.
The new songs are good if not earth-shattering. Given the addition of Nicolaidis and a guitar that isn't afraid to get up out of the mix and shred, the new songs both feel rather more conventional than, say, Terrible Two's "Empty Legs" and its unlikely whistled call-to-attention. It's more interesting to see how others interpret Thank You here and, in particular, what happens to Thank You without rhythm. Indeed, all three remixers don't waste any time in making the material their own: Urick and Williams microsample the hell out of "Pathetic Magic," turning it into an unmelodic ambient wash. It's not a peaceful wash, rather a tense composition that feels like it's holding the original song underwater or pinning it to a mat--as sounds pan quickly from speaker to speaker you can only imagine something else is down there trying desperately to get out.
As for Osborne, you've probably never heard him do something so busy. For two minutes or so, the original song is packed down tightly with guitars pitched way the hell up into a frantic din before the piece drops into quite the opposite: the melody replayed on organ and stretched out for minutes. The interpretation of Thank You's bedrock juxtaposition is taken very literally, like a jagged blotch of fire-engine red placed next to a square of sea-blue on a gallery wall. Finally, Deacon sucks the chaos right out of the track, reordering it into something, well, ordered: a sampled drum loop keeps even time while synths evenly and carefully progress the melody. It's an interesting take on this overall interesting document.