Belfast’s The Continuous Battle Of Order formed from the remnants of local stars -We Are Knives’ and pick up the city’s well-established math-rock credentials and run with them. Pttrn Skrs (Pattern Seekers – how geek-rock is that?) is an occasionally boisterous meets startlingly subtle debut which, in large parts, takes one of the more delicate leaves out of And So I Watch You From Afar’s mind-melting book. It tumbles through frighteningly fast and technically complex riffs in a procession of shambolic, free-flowing tracks that delve into layer upon layer of vocal-free, contrasting experimentalism. The end result is a promising yet complex listen, occasionally departing into almost tribal drumbeats and oddly chosen electronic asides.
For all the great guitar work, though, there’s a disappointingly gimmicky edge to this album. From the opening 90 second of static fuzz that we’re reliably informed is -the sound of a text message attempting to deliver to a landline’, there are a few too many reasons to squirm. Naming every track as a number is counterproductive (-I’m a bit fan of 003-2 doesn’t slip off the tongue so well, though Forward Russia did go one better, putting the numbers in an irritating random order), and the use of generically fuzzy static in the background and randomly delivered figures in the foreground does little for the record on the whole.
Still, there are a number of interesting and eccentric efforts here. -004′ is the exception to the manic rules: a slow piece that shifts its way through a gentle pattern of rhythms, arriving in a place not dissimilar to that occupied by classical guitar artists. By closer -006′ we’re back in full on melodic-thrash mode, slamming through a few riffs that wouldn’t sound out of place on a hardcore record. The track draws in indistinct vocals -We’re all just pattern seekers’ and manic guitars, before closing with a piece of strangely intense Morse Code intermingled with what sounds like (but probably isn’t) a bird trying to escape from a cage. Bizarre, but infectiously so.
Despite coming in at an extremely brisk 29 minutes Pttrn Skrs does explore a vast array of sounds and demonstrates just a touch of what The Continuous Battle Of Order offer in a live setting. Given the high-expectations surrounding many Richter Collective releases, though (this one in particular’s not been struggling for hype, either), the spontaneity of the live show just fails to shine through on record. To be fair, it would be difficult to reproduce, but Pttrn Skrs – for all its wacky and sporadically inspired creativity – just doesn’t quite reach the mark.