To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie: The Patron

Apparently, The Patron, To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie's debut full-length, thematically presents a love story of sorts between two merging corporations—“the corruption of an idea that is at first welcomed and later destroyed,” to quote the release's accompanying notes. Chances are, though, that you'll be so strongly caught in the material's sonic grip that you'll pay attention to the lyrics secondarily (if at all). At the center of the group's storm is the haunting singing of Jehna Wilhelm whose breathy delivery resembles a slightly less idiosyncratic Julee Cruise, while the material itself oozes some of the nightmarish ambiance associated with the Lynch-Badalamenti-Cruise triad (check out the opening of “I Box Twenty” to hear the similarities). To her credit, Wilhelm resists the urge to embellish and delivers the vocals sans affectation, allowing them to confidently drift through the dense thickets of industrial gloom and scarred soundscapes produced by her own guitar and Mark McGee's sonic manipulations.

A particularly strong exemplar of the Minneapolis-based group's style, “The Man With the Shovel, Is The Man I'm Going To Marry” filters her incantatory whisper through a grime-encrusted haze of clicking patterns and tribal beats. Strong too are “Very Lovely,” a lullaby cloaked in grandiose noise, and “You Guys Talk, We'll Spill Our Guts,” whose fairytale folk melodies carve a vocal path through a harrowing forest of blistering feedback. The contrast between gentle vocalizing and instrumental guitar- and electronic-generated noise (the duo embrace the loss of translation that comes with each pass of sounds and samples, with a blurring of the original's outline the result) is even more pronounced in “Lovers & Liars” and “With Brass Songs They'll Descend” which push that nightmare concept to an extreme. This juxtaposition of calm and chaos—a defining dimension of the duo's sound—makes for discomfiting yet compelling results throughout the hour-long recording, and is even present in instrumentals like “Long Arms” where a dreamy melodic line flecked with glockenspiel sparkle is accompanied by a plodding rhythm whose lurch suggests a corpse being dragged across an open field. The Patron represents precisely the kind of uncompromising vision we've come to expect from kranky.

November 2007