FOTOCRIME Always Hell – Vinyl 7″//DD Self Release – Released May 12, 2017 Reviewed By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker
Once upon a time there was a man named Ryan Patterson from Louisville, Kentucky that played in a sludge-ish, albeit punk-infused, post-hardcore band named Coliseum. As an integral component of Coliseum, he participated in the release of five studio albums and numerous EPs and Splits with the band. In 2015, that project would release their final studio record, the critically acclaimed Anxiety’s Kiss, and from there eventually disband. In the months and eventual years since then, Ryan would adopt a pseudonym, R. Pattern, and undergo an intriguing musical metamorphosis.
In more recent times, Pattern has resurfaced with a new musical endeavor named Fotocrime, one where he alone has been the sole member thus far. The story goes that he holed himself up within a home studio and went to work on giving Fotocrime its very own aural identity. Now be forewarned, if you are seeking sonic output similar to that of this man’s previous project then you may as well turn around and leave as quietly as you came in. I bequeath that advice to you based upon the reality that Fotocrime is nothing like Coliseum in any way of substance or similitude. Inspired by more minimalist musings and armed with a seemingly stripped down arsenal of riffs, synths, and drum machines, Fotocrime emanates a fatalistic fever of darkly gothic music. It’s a staunchly haunting, musical menagerie of stark, shadowy overtones and post-apocalyptic new wave.
Captured in conjunction with longtime collaborator and producer J. Robbins at Robbins’ Magpie Cage Studio, Fotocrime‘s 3-song EP debut, ‘Always Hell‘, was just released on May 12th. It contains the ‘Always Hell’ title track (and official video below) along with ‘Plate Glass Eyes‘ and ‘Tectonic Shift‘, a trio of hellishly deep cloak and dagger cuts. Spellbinding and all-consuming, the tracks are a refreshing lungful of enthralling, atmospheric-laden opposition to the stagnant norm of moden music. If it is different you seek, that you want and ultimately must have, then Fotocrime has come to deliver you from the mundane sameness that assaults us daily.
Alongside R. Pattern in the live version of Fotocrime are Shelley Anderson andNick Thieneman. The trio have a series of live performances scheduled to begin in late June and they are listed below.
– Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker
FOTOCRIME On Tour:
Jun. 27 — Chicago, IL @ Gman Tavern
Jun. 29 — Toronto, ON @ Baby G
Jun. 30 — Ottawa, ON @ Pressed
Jul. 1 — Montreal, QC @ Turbohaus
Jul. 2 — Boston, MA @ O’Briens Pub
Jul. 3 — Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
Jul. 6 — Philadelphia, PA @ Boot and Saddle
Jul. 8 — Columbus, OH @ Café Bourbon Street
I’d been telling Taste Nation brainchild Matthew Thomas that I needed some good new post-punk in my life. Believe it or not, I don’t just sit around listening to stoner metal, doom, and all the old Black Sabbath albums all the time. I actually have fairly eclectic tastes, and I start to feel pretty burned out listening to one genre of music all the time. I beg and practically whine to be able to review someone who doesn’t list Kyuss or Sleep as influences, and eventually Matthew was kind enough to oblige. Okay, maybe not initially, when he tricked me into reviewing another stoner metal band by telling me it was a post-punk band, but I’m willing to forgive him that little bait and switch tactic, because it was a good stoner album, and the next band that landed on my proverbial desk was Sweden’s A Projection. Matthew basically asked me, “Is this post-punk enough for you yet??” And I answered with a resounding YES, then proceeded to bombard his Facebook page with cute pictures of kittens as a show of gratitude, for which you’d think that he’d be far more appreciative.
From the opening bassline from first track, ‘Hands’, which creeps and crawls through the brain like some long-lost Joy Division outtake that’s just resurfaced circa 2017, you pretty much know what you’re getting into: frenetic, restless and infectious basslines, drumbeats that pulse with a steady, hypnotic monotony, cold baritone vocals delivering bleak lyrics and minimalistic melodies, soaring synthesizer parts, and guitars that toe the line between lush ambiance and abrasive angularity. The second track, ‘Dark City’, follows suit quite nicely, with a catchy instrumental hook that’s reminiscent of the classic Joy Division tune, “24 Hours”, though A Projection definitely ups their early Cure influence on this one. This tune for me represents the peak of what they can accomplish with the whole Joy Division exchanging bloody kisses and black roses with The Cure approach, so I think that it’s cool that they change things up by the third song, “Transition”. The memorable line “No more singing on the dance floor” is reinforced with the more dance friendly beat and song structure, and it marks a turn towards the more upbeat, which continues on the next track “Sensible Ends”, with its curt vocal delivery and driving drum rhythms that eventually morph into a straight up four-to-the-floor dance beat.
The next track, ‘Scattered’, is where they really start to shake things up a bit. A Projection utilizes a two chord major key progression that’s eerily reminiscent of the Modern English song “I’ll Melt With You.” There’s also a really cool and quirky keyboard breakdown thrown into the middle before the vocals break out of the baritone range into more ecstatic octaves. In case you think that they’re going soft on us, rest assured that the next song ‘I’m Not Here’ once again launches into a dark and emotionally tortured dalliance, like Ian Curtis providing guest vocals for a Disintegration outtake. This is followed by ‘No Light’, which is more in the same vein of the second song, “Dark City.” Just read the above description of that track; it’s the same idea.
‘Next Time’ once again strays into pop territories, with a ridiculously infectious main hook initially introduced by the guitars and then driven home by the catchy chorus. I swear that I’ve heard this hook in another prominent 80’s tune, though I can’t place it off the top of my head. The ending of the song is great too, as it descends into this ranting style of vocals, like a goth-rock take on R.E.M.’s
‘It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (I Feel Fine).’ The next song, ‘For Another Day’, once again reminds me of early Cure, which is fine and dandy. ‘Betrayal’ is next, and once again brings that major key melodic sense to the table, and the quicker tempo gives it an irresistible urgency. ‘Hollow Eyes’ is slower and bleaker, with a more dissonant, eerie progression and some harsh triggered electronics in the background, along with a splendid descending keyboard line after the chorus. ‘Breach’ is in the same realm as “Dark Cities”, right down to the main guitar part that reminds me of “24 Hours.” The final track, ‘Listen To The Dark’ once again makes heavy use of electronics and effects – the drums and vocals are punctuated by heavy delay, which stretches out the otherwise sparse arrangement into a dark abstract soundscape that recalls some of The Soft Moon’s best work. This would have been a goth anthem were it only released in 1983.
I’m sure that you know what you’re thinking right now – I started this review by saying that I was burned out only listening to bands that sound a lot like other bands, and yet here I am reviewing a band that by my own account, simply sounds a lot like other bands. This is absolutely true; I’m guilty as charged. A Projection aren’t bravely treading new ground, nor do they really attempt to do so. This is an album made solely in the post-punk/goth/new wave tradition of the early 80’s. I’m not going to lie to you or insult your intelligence by saying that this album is the greatest thing since sliced bread and you must be living under a rock if you haven’t heard it. It’s just a well written collection of thirteen songs that are executed, performed, and produced to accomplish a particular effect, namely to conjure the spirit of a bygone age of music past. Right now, that’s simply scratching a particular itch that’s been nagging at my backside for the past couple weeks, plain and simple. If this albums sounds like it scratches your particular itch as well, then I’d encourage you to check it out for yourself. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, and you’re looking to drink down something more in the mode of a 70’s rock throwback, the new Horisont album is most excellent in my humble opinion.