Following up his 2016 album, 'Introvertigo', South African guitarist/vocalist Dan Patlansky has delivered another fine work in the form of 'Perfection Kills'. And the pernicious affects of the album's titular noun are what forms the basis for his modus operandi in recording this new one. Says Patlansky: "The pursuit of perfection ends up doing far more harm to the art than good. This was the mindset we adhered to when we went into the recording studio...". A great mindset, indeed. And with the state of 'perfection' but a mere myth; an unattainable, subjectively variable illusion, it would be remiss of me to judge whether or not Patlansky has achieved 'perfection' with the album. A review, of course, is only ever one person's judgements and observations on their personal connection to an artist's music, so "perfection" could be subjectively declared for any given work, but certainly not asserted in any kind of objective sense. So, while I feel Patlansky's latest falls short of perfection in my own reckoning, it's still a mightily fine work.
First off, it must be said that it's a shame the "blues" tag seems to be perennially attached to Patlansky. Sure, his roots reside within said genre, but this album, as with his previous works, have transcended his one-time affiliation and become more about... not genre-free, per se, but where genre has become secondary to the actual songwriting and its execution. Blues motifs are discernible here and there (emphatically in 'Judge a Man'), but there's so much more to 'Perfection Kills'. As such, being labelled as merely a "blues rock guitarist" is not only misleading, but delimiting for a potentially wider audience who might be turned off by any mention of "blues" in the first instance. "Renegade blues" as the man himself has opted to label it. But there's so much more on offer here than generic conceptions of what's generally presumed "blues" might or should be.
With a ton of retro rock influences, 'Perfection Kills' sounds like a nostalgic trip, and one with a feeling that idioms of yore are being perpetuated in, rather than propelled into, the twenty first century. As such, there are no fabrications of modern proclivities here, which is matched by the production. There's a very nice sounding raw/polished dynamic going on throughout the album. Effectively, what we have is a great sounding live record but with just enough studio polish to give it that extra sheen of a fantastic live recording. In fact, I understand that the core instruments were all tracked simultaneously, with keys, vocals and solos added individually, afterwards. Kind of explains the raw energy of the music. Kudos to Patlansky for a great production here. A man who knows the sound he wanted and, I'm guessing, achieved precisely that.
This might be a Patlansky solo album, but let's not forget the fact he's backed by a solid and reliable rhythm section of bassist Clint Falconer and drummer Andy Maritz, with songs embellished by the refined keys work of Dean Barrett. It's all part of what brings his compositions to life. But, of course, Patlansky is centre stage, with both his great voice and even greater fretboard work. Clean guitar parts, distorted heaviness, and everything in-between, forms the basis of each song. His more introspective, reflective and calmer lead work is a joy to listen to, yet it's with his gutsy bursts of visceral sonics when he lets rip with some rocked-up, widdle-tastic virtuosity that the album genuinely comes alive. And these moments are plentiful. While, to my ears, perfection this is not, the album still comes highly recommended!
Review by Mark Holmes
2nd February 2018
2) Never Long Enough
4) Too Far Gone
5) Judge A Man
6) Junket Man
8) Shake The Cage
9) My Dear Boy
10) Dog Day
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"With a ton of retro rock influences, 'Perfection Kills' sounds like a nostalgic trip, and one with a feeling that idioms of yore are being perpetuated in, rather than propelled into, the twenty first century. As such, there are no fabrications of modern proclivities here..."