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Pattern Is Movement: Success Through Separation.

October 4, 2013

PatternIsMovement01smallText by Nikki Volpicelli. Images by Kate Harrold.

The thing about making things is you’re rarely ever going to think they’re good enough yourself, as the maker. Anyone who knows that feeling can understand why it’s taking Pattern Is Movement four years to complete their newest self-titled record, the fourth release from Philly’s mad-sound scientists.

Pattern Is Movement has seen some members come and go – three to be exact – but what’s stayed constant is two of its founders, Christopher Ward and Andrew Thiboldeaux, who admittedly learned how to play music at a young age through each other.

“Chris and I have been making music together in some capacity for 20 years,” Thiboldeaux says. “I think that musical alliance is present throughout all of what we’ve produced together, independent of who else has contributed to that or had a stake in it.”

The group garnered a lot of attention with its 2004 release, The (Im)possibility of Longing, which was critically acclaimed. Pitchfork said, “Pattern Is Movement more than transcending the math-rock tag, and their senses of songcraft and pop accessibility greatly outpace those of just about any of their peers.” Prefix web magazine said it was “a promising debut that challenges structure in the same ways as Tortoise and the Sea and Cake.” Ward admits that the record took forever to create but “no one knew it took forever because we weren’t a band yet.”

That was years ago, and in between then and now the group released All Together in 2008, a record Ward explains was “rushed” and “not well-received” due to a pre-booked tour and impending release deadline.

“With our previous releases, we pushed records before they had time to mature,” Ward remembers. “That’s what I’m most excited about with this record. I believe it had time to marinate and I’m 100 percent proud of it.  Also, I had a lot of changes in my life, and taking that time helped me figure out a lot about who I was and what I wanted to communicate with my parts.”

This wasn’t easy. The record, which is now due out in January 2014 on Portland’s Hometapes Records, is actually the second run of the new release. Ward and Thiboldeaux worked tirelessly, to the point that Ward says, “I was struggling to get perspective on the record. I seriously had kind of a breakdown because I was like, ‘I don’t know if this record is awesome or if it’s a piece of shit.'”

They weren’t completely confident that it was a fully concrete piece when they handed it in to their label. What happened next? Nothing.

Ward is not sure exactly what the label said about the record but he knows it was something along the lines of “this isn’t finished.” That’s when they decided on a different approach – to separate.

Ward and Thiboldeaux worked independently from each other so that they could gain a perspective they maybe never had in the decades they’ve spent learning and playing music together. They tracked separately, gave each other constructive criticism over the telephone and then took some time to feel out the music on their own, practicing their own parts in the pattern.

“When you think about being in a relationship with someone, it takes time for your feelings to develop and come to the surface, to tell someone how you really feel and thats what this record is about,” Ward says.

Both musicians understand that it worked. This record is their proudest accomplishment to date and they’re in no rush to slam it out into the world until they fully know it’s ready to be out there. What would those young kids who met and started making beautiful music together think about their older selves’ latest record?

“I think our 13-year-old selves would have loved this album,” Thiboldeaux surmises. “I have a lot of respect for those guys! I did fantasize when I when was a teenager about being completely immersed in music and I think what I’m experiencing now is pretty close to that.”

Pattern is Movement

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