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Part of the essence of what constitutes cool in a person, their art, behaviour, or whatever, is not trying to be cool. Somebody or something, in a particular context, either just is or isn't cool. It's an innate quality and genuine 'cool' should never be, and can never be, born from contrivance or pretension. So, just why am I rambling about the nature of cool? Well, South African guitarist/vocalist Dan Patlansky's 'Introvertigo' is, without a doubt, inherently cool. The album oozes cool without seemingly trying to fit into any preconceived notion of contrived coolness. Already with a string of albums to his name, I'm a newcomer to this guy's music but, based on 'Introvertigo', an instant convert.

Describing the concept of the album himself as based on his own insecurities and experiences of being "an introvert in the music industry" and "life in general", 'Introvertigo' is, ostensibly, a living, breathing, sonic paradox. There's so much extrovert flair and energy in the man's musicianship and songwriting that it's difficult to imagine this was all born from an awareness of his own introverted self. I guess it comes down to the self/art dichotomy where a person feels more comfortable in artistic expressions of their self. And Patlansky evidently feels at total ease in his aesthetic as every single song conveys a natural, free-flowing emotional effluence. Not only that, but the way he takes established blues rock motifs and transforms them for his own expressive use is simply exhilarating. While not a blues rock iconoclast in totality, his stylistic blend, which fuses elements of rock, funk, groove and blues, feels fresh and exciting; impelling his chosen genre elements into new territory, while underpinned with just the right amount of familiarity so as not to distance the listener with any sense of wild experimentation. That's quite an achievement, I would argue. That is, progressing erstwhile genre motifs within the context of something that's instantly accessible.

Vocal-wise, Patlansky is a marvel. His gravel-toned delivery seems ever so malleable to the changing moods of the music, be it the rocked-up might of opener 'Run', or the down-tempo, quasi-balladic number, 'Loosen Up the Grip'. And, instrumentally, the music fits the concepts behind his lyrics, such as the nostalgic optimism conveyed in the rock-stomper 'Western Decay'; the bouncy blues and cheeky persuasions of 'Poor Old John'; the aural polemic and aggressive edge of 'Sonnava Faith'... and so on. For an album that's loaded with so much natural sounding flair in both its conception and execution, there also seems to have been a lot of thought behind marrying words with music - I'm guessing one must've inspired the other in a mutually conceived series of compositions.

Produced, engineered and mixed by Theo Crous (of Springbok Nude Girls fame), who also contributes with some keyboards and backing vocals, he's done a fantastic job in making 'Introvertigo' sound every bit as alive, sprightly and vigorous as it deserves, given Patlansky's incredible performances on vocals and guitar. And the rhythm section of drummer Clint Falconer and bassist Andy Maritz sound as energized as the man himself. A great effort all-round, 'Introvertigo' is a magnificently conceived and realised album. And I guess it's mere coincidence that the title's an anagram of 'Riveting Root' and 'Groovier Tint'; two qualities of the music. It's also an anagram of 'Groin Over Tit', 'Virgin Toe Rot' and 'Overt Gin Riot'... but now I'm just talking gibberish.
Review by Mark Holmes
6th May 2016
1) Run
2) Poor Old John
3) Sonnova Faith
4) Loosen Up the Grip
5) Heartbeat
6) Stop the Messin'
7) Bet On Me
8) Still Wanna Be Your Man
9) Western Decay
10) Queen Puree
South Africa
"The album oozes cool without seemingly trying to fit into any preconceived notion of contrived coolness."