The continued rollout, mutation, and absorption of dance music in all its permutations throughout America gets a 2011 poster child in Pictureplane's Thee Physical, which at least shows that Travis Egedy deserves credit for more than simply coming up with the idea of a style of music called "witch house," however humorously. Neither cutting edge in electronic terms nor aiming for the heart of the charts, the album's interest lies in its easily dreamy fusions, exchanging the cold imagery of the album art and song titles for something more sweetly exultant -- though "Techno Fetish" definitely sums it all up perfectly, no matter the overall intent. A general approach holds sway -- Egedy's sighing, soft vocal parts, sometimes looped, often expressing general sentiments rather than continuing lyrics, over short, staccato arrangements, a telescoping of impact different from dance's tendency to flow and build. Call it a singer/songwriter approach using new kinds of roots-based instruments for an electronic age. Where there is more in the way of lyrics, the sentiments feel like a dream of future past, like "Post Physical," with a calmer, often lovelier arrangement to help set and deliver them. The ghosts of 1988 to 1992 hang heavy on songs like "Body Mod," while the demi-rock fusions of the Prodigy and Chemical Brothers turn up elsewhere along with a fleck of shoegaze on "Thee Power Hand." Dubstep's increasingly Americanized impact can be sensed in the bass wobbles of "Black Nails," while trance's long shadow in turn crops up in "Real Is a Feeling." Not to mention the title and feeling of "Trancegender" -- but why not go all out, after all?
Thee Physical Review
by Ned Raggett