DJ & Music Writer from the UK

Project Pitchfork – A Listeners Guide

Another Concept?

Project Pitchfork - Akkretion (Cover)

Akkretion was the first of two albums released in 2018. Official promo material tell us this album is the first in a trilogy (we’ve heard that before!). Talk of this combined with the astronomically-inspired title, the irregular beat on the opening (title) track and one might think that they’re going to get lost in some esoteric concepts again. But that fear lasts one song – Good Night Death, a beautiful, expansive vision of the cycles of life and death, yet one with an instant melodic hook, Gravity Waves and The Collision are both straightforward Pitchfork numbers true to their style. And The Sun Was Blue shows they can still compress advanced scientific concepts into lyrical format, and Ascension is a late-album highlight which I’m running out of new ways of describing. Despite being the first part of a trilogy, this album stands up on it’s own merits.

Singles and Versions: The 2CD version comes as an LP-sized box this time, plenty of artwork to enjoy – the actual 2LP/2CD version came a couple of years later. The usual trio of in-house alternate versions (nice to get female vocal on Ascension) a passable exclusive track (Tree Of Life), but for the first time in a while, a third-party remix as We Are Temporary take on ‘Crossfire’.

Project Pitchfork - Fragment (Cover)

The second part of the trilogy Fragment was issued later that year. And once again, there’s elaborate artwork and regular hints that this album is forming part of a wider over-arching concept. And once again, underneath all this is an uncomplicated Project Pitchfork album with all the usual electronic loops, melodic hooks and Spilles musing on the state of humanity and/or the universe.

An interesting diversion into waltz time on A Clockwork, offset by some rather more structural transitions on On This Small Blue Planet. The other tracks are all exactly what you want them to be, and exactly what you expect them to be. It’s something that occurs to most prolific German scene bands – there reaches a point where they end up repeating the same album (UK bands rarely release enough material for this to be a problem). At least in the case of Project Pitchfork, when they do find themselves in a cycle of repetition, at least they’re repeating the good stuff.

Singles and Versions: Like the previous part, there’s a 2CD version in an LP sized box, with an actual 2LP/2CD version released in 2021. Amidst all the artwork, there’s 5 bonus tracks to be had – two exclusive tracks and three mixes. “You Knew It Wouldn’t Be Easy” sees a rare appearance of guitar, otherwise the two songs could easily have made it only the album without complaint. The three remixes consists of rhythmically hardened takes on “The Great Storm” and “A Fragment” plus an extended version of “In Your Heart”. Useful for DJ play but not essential for the home listener.

As for the concluding part of trilogy? We had to wait for that. The only news during the pandemic period was the departure of founder member Dirk Scheuber from the line-up in February 2021, but there was no new music from the band to fill up the gig-devoid lockdown era. It took until 2024 for last part of the story to appear – Elysium. Named for the afterlife in Ancient Greek mythology – and hence not only belatedly end the current three-part opus but also serve as a counterpoint the long-forgotten ‘Inferno’ from a few decades prior.

Sue, the female vocalist who appeared briefly on one of the ‘Akkretion’ extras, finally makes it onto the album proper a couple of times. Unity is classic Pitchy philosopop, her voice reinforcing the chorus alongside the usual Spilles musings on matters of life or death and she also adds some harmonies to the closing stages of Learning To Live. Other highlights are hints of mass chanting drive along the urgent sequencing of Axiom and the still-necessary reminder of self-inflicted global destruction of Blind Mice. They were saying such things as far back as the early 1990s and seemingly humanity has yet to get the message. Then again, the bits of it doing the most destruction aren’t listening to Project Pitchfork albums. Will the civilisation survive long enough for them to record another? Question remains open.

Versions: Again, there’s a CD, a double 2CD and 2LP+2CD versions, with elaborate packaging for the latter pair. The luxury versions also offer the usual bonus CD with the non-album track ‘Is It You?’, whilst does have its attractive moments but ultimately feels underdeveloped. Also the usual 3 remixes/alternate versions, which again aren’t significantly different from the official versions. The appeal of these bonus editions is primarily in the artwork.

And here’s the thing about Project Pitchfork’s Trisol era albums. You can easily find someone with something good to say about all of them, although many of the comments are along the lines of ‘I just rediscovered them after years away’, often not aware that others are out there. Similarly, some will settle for blanket dismissals (it’s fashionable to knock those several steps above you, especially if you have a pet subgenre to push), or simply ignore them. Certainly the more cutting-edge sections of the industrial music online critic community have long since moved on (at least those writing in English have). But on an internet of agenda and jumbled opinion, I think my attempt at creating a one-person journey though a band’s long and diverse backcatalogue still has some value.  Unlike some, my quest is not to find the ‘next big thing’, but to make sure that the ‘last big thing’ is not forgotten.

But we’re not finished yet…..

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