Brother John's above-Average experimental electronica | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Brother John's above-Average experimental electronica

Average (Part 1): Numerator
The Beechfields

John Purvis is a Pittsburgh-based producer and electronic musician, Art Institute grad and operator of Tone Matrix Productions Studios, in McKeesport. As Brother John, he's put together 10 albums since 1992. His latest, released on the nonprofit Baltimore label The Beechfields, is Average (Part 1): Numerator, an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of electronic experiments, fey little melodies, spacious ambient textures and early industrial beats.

The record's influences may seem a little old-fashioned, but Brother John finds fresh combinations for these bits of New Order, Nine Inch Nails and Air and his own Pet Shop Boys-ish multilayered vocals.

Track to track, you never know what's going to happen -- even within the songs themselves. One of the finest, "piss off," begins with a Godfather-esque accordion melody before opening up into full Spiritualized symphonic mode. Track six, "frykwynC," starts with a stuttering NIN beat and dark layers of synths, before finely chopped vocals transform the track into an extraterrestrial cheerleader chant. "toy cannons" sounds like an Aaron Copeland theme set atop a simmering breakbeat, while "at a loss" has a playful sing-along quality reminiscent of Aphex Twin's "Milkman."

Each of the 13 tracks -- most under three minutes in length -- show off distinct sounds and production ideas, which is sometimes jarring, but not unpleasant. If there's a criticism to be made, it's that each of these pieces seems fully realized in itself, to the exclusion of over-arching development or theme. But if you're a fan of singles collections, or just like your electronica with a healthy dose of ADD, unknown pleasures await.