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Dan Patlansky - Perfection Kills (Album Review)

Friday, 16 February 2018 Written by Simon Ramsay

Photo: Tobias Coetsee

If South African singer, songwriter and guitarist Dan Patlansky is proficient at DIY he’d best have his tools handy come December. Following hot on the heels of breakout release ‘Dear Silence Thieves’ and its follow-up ‘Introvertigo’, two fantastic modern blues-rock albums that landed multiple prizes, ‘Perfection Kills’ is another superb offering that’s liable to add more gongs to his growing collection. In other words, Patlansky’s going to need a bigger mantelpiece.

The current resurgence in blues-based music has cultivated such a competitive scene that to stand out from the crowd requires something special. Patlansky’s an excellent guitar slinger and passionately gritty singer, but his stock has risen sharply because he’s also a top drawer songwriter, dishing up personal stories and socio-political commentaries over dynamic musical backgrounds.

Johnny spins the tale of an abusive father through an aggressive riff that marries Rage Against The Machine’s Bombtrack to a crunching bluesy tail end. Yet there’s pain in the story, leading the wall of noise to suddenly drop away during the verses as spacious ambience accentuates its underlying sadness.

Mayday and Never Long Enough offer an equally powerful blend of music and message. The former charts a repetitive modern existence, its slow-burning soundscape offering sedate Pink Floyd atmospherics that mirror the numbness.

The latter, meanwhile, details Patlansky’s chagrin at only seeing his family fleetingly while on tour. That frustration erupts into a chorus stoked with yearning, but at various intervals his internal despair is perfectly captured by isolated piano notes. It also boasts an exceptionally constructed six-string break, where three distinct phases are voiced so differently you’ll swear he’s got guest players jamming with him. And the award for best guitar solo of 2018 goes to…

Although blues is his bread and butter, Patlansky siphons influences from outside genres such as soul, pop and funk to give his work a fresh, contemporary feel. As well as gifting each tune the kind of sing along hooks blues rarely delivers. What really makes his sound unique, though, is how he draws from ‘90s alternative rock to unleash some magnificently visceral riffs.  

Too Far Gone explodes to life with frenetic whammy bar work and fiery rhythms, reflecting the song’s anger at how humans are ravaging planet earth with little thought for future generations. The brutal irritation of Dog Day is equally indebted to Rage’s Tom Morello, its riffage a thundering combo of head pounding funk and rock ‘n’ roll fire.

Patlansky produced this album himself, intent on capturing the raw aesthetic of his live shows and refusing to airbrush the results. The outcome is the guitarist’s biggest, most organic sounding record to date. His only misstep is to distort the vocals on Ieyes. Its cutting observations about modern day zombies who live life through their phones and tablets are difficult to understand and therefore don’t land as powerfully as they should.

‘Perfection Kills’ is undoubtedly another winner, but one thought springs to mind that’s more observation than criticism. Much like his last two records, these songs are short, to the point and classically structured. Although a deliberate and successful creative decision that could continue reaping rich rewards, it feels like he’s gone as far as he can with this direction and needs to shake things up next time to keep moving forward.

Dan Patlansky Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu March 15 2018 - MANCHESTER Deaf Institute
Fri March 16 2018 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Newcastle Cluny
Sat March 17 2018 - STAFFORDSHIRE Foxlowe Arts Centre
Sun March 18 2018 - BRISTOL Bristol Tunnels
Tue March 20 2018 - SHEFFIELD Greystones
Wed March 21 2018 - LONDON Borderline

Click here to compare & buy Dan Patlansky Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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