What’s the story?
There is a sense that Andy Bell was pleasantly surprised by the success of Dissident, his first album as GLOK. Until then it seemed he was happy to let the project simmer beneath the surface, but as soon as that first album made its presence felt it gave him the confidence to spread his wings and spend more time in the studio.
Pattern Recognition builds on that success, taking the building blocks of Krautrock-influenced instrumentals and running with them, adding more nuances and possibilities. That means several vocal tracks for the first time.
The Bandcamp guide to the album reveals that it ‘has a loose thread which takes in a week of life, from weekend to weekend, with each of the vinyl’s four sides capturing different mind states across that transition. Each side has a distinct feel that’s different to the last but inherently cohesive – much like the changes an individual goes through over 7 days.’
What’s the music like?
Pattern Recognition has a greater breadth of styles than Dissident did, and now it has the vocalists to add extra depth and variety. The guests are all excellent, especially punk poet Sinead O’Brien on Maintaining the Machine, where her words dovetail beautifully with the GLOK synths and loping beats. Entanglement, featuring Chloé ‘C.A.R.’ Raunet, is cut from similar cloth, with more guitar in the mix and a really full, solid wall of sound to back it up.
Shamon Cassette is a brooding presence on the nocturnal Process, which bubbles atmospherically, while his wife Shiarra’s voice works really well against the pulsing figures and fat bass of That Time Of Night.
If you are already familiar with the music of Dissident you will appreciate the broad scope of the brilliantly named album opener Dirty Hugs. On it Bell gives himself nearly 20 minutes to unpack a throbbing groove in thrall to Krautrock and containing a lot of good things, which unwind at a really satisfying pace. It serves as a form guide for the rest of the album, as Pattern Recognition is a very substantial piece of work.
Closer nods a bit more to the techno of Mr Fingers in its square beat and bass line, but in contrast Memorial Device has an improvised piano line drifting past. Kintsugi is lovely, with its wide open sounds, while the woozy Day Three cuts to Invocation, where Bell’s sonic blender works a treat as part of a monotone and hypnotic groove, spun out again to more than 15 minutes as a track the listener can really immerse themselves in.
Two edits of Dirty Hugs and Closer complete an attractive bonus package.
Does it all work?
Yes, making it two out of two for Bell. Pattern Recognition does everything you would want from a follow-up to Dissident, and even accusations of it being too long would be brought up short. There is ample evidence of just how much Bell is enjoying his electronic incarnation, and the well-chosen vocal guests are the icing on the cake.
Is it recommended?
Heartily – as long as you already have the first installment of Bell’s GLOK incarnation!
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