PVT are finding hope in the darkness

In recent years, PVT have been relatively quiet: apart from the ten-year anniversary shows, and the long-overdue vinyl release of their 2005 debut, Make Me Love You, the three members of the electronic post-rock band, have been busy with their various projects.

The tyranny of distance dictates that when the band does find themselves all in one place, it’s time to get to work.
Speaking with drummer Laurence Pike, he explains the circumstances around recording New Spirit, and why the new record is as much about hope and renewal as it is about reflecting the darkness of what’s going on in society.
“We felt like if we’re going to keep making records, and we’re going to approach them in the way we always have where we feel almost duty-bound to keep pushing ourselves to go out and explore the limits of what we can do musically, then we need to make this meaningful from a lyrical and thematical view point as well. There are subjects that are hard to avoid when you feel like the country is dying around you,” says Pike.
“When we were making the record, there was an idea within politics where people were trying to subjugate the idea of what being Australian meant for whatever gains, and we also live in this time where culture and intellectualism and the arts seem like they’re under attack.
“It’s hard to say the songs are political. They’re more indirect than that. They’re inspired by politics, but they’re not directly political. It’s more about raising questions than presenting answers. We’re certainly not about preaching to people, but it’s more about starting conversations.”
New Spirit’slead single is Morning Mist, Rock Island Bend. The song is a bubbling creeper which pulses in the undergrowth for a hypnotic nine minutes and is bathed in slow-burn melodies and expansive textures. Somewhat of a centrepiece for the record, the song seems to encapsulate a sense of anxiety coupled with the hope for renewal, and looks at our natural environment, within the greater context of loss and rebirth.
The album artwork is designed by Jonathan Zawada, who recently received acclaim for his work with Flume. “We wanted some sort of distorted Australian iconography,” says Pike. “The gum leaf in the ouroboros configuration was the very first thing he sent back, and needless to say it was absolutely perfect.”
The band recorded New Spirit over a couple of two-week stints in Sydney and London, with an emphasis on capturing live performances as a group. “The big thing I felt like we wanted to achieve is to do something that felt more expansive. We wanted it to feel it had a humanity to it, a sense of play, an interactivity and an organic quality. We didn’t care quite as much about needing to be anything, we just wanted to be.
“All the drum takes are live; there’s not really drum-editing on the album. So much music these days is using Pro-Tools. It’s easy to edit the performance out of everything, and put everything on a grid. We’re quite aware of the pitfalls of that stuff, that’s why a lot of music can sound lifeless these days because people think they’re aspiring to a level of perfection, but what they’re doing is sucking the life out of the music. There are bits on the drums, where I think, ‘Oh, probably could’ve done that again,’ but who cares? It sounds like a person playing in a room.
“I’m most excited when we’re making something that I don’t really understand. That’s when I feel like we’re doing something that might be long lasting. If it’s succeeds it succeeds, if it fails, that’s cool too. I feel like the new record is one of the best things we’ve done. And I can say that with a sense of hindsight now because we’ve been sitting on it for a couple of years. We’re coming back to it now to talk about it, and we’re starting to play the songs, and it’s cool, I’m excited by it still.”
By Luke Fussell

PVT will perform at NGV as part of their Friday Nights at series on Friday February 24. New Spirit is out Friday February 17 via Create/Control.