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P. G. Six

Prog Folk

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P. G. Six Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites album cover
3.98 | 4 ratings | 2 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2001

Songs / Tracks Listing

1- Introduction (Letter to Lilli St Cyr) (1:18)
2- When I was a young man (3:10)
3- The Divine Invasion (1:59)
4- Unteleported Man (6:10)
5- Quiet Fan for SK (7:03)
6- The Shepherd (2:58)
7- Go Your Way ( with A. Briggs) (8:23)
8- Two Pieces In Memoriam (4:49)
9- Letter to Lilli St Cyr (3:12)

Line-up / Musicians

Pat Gubler / all instruments except:

Tim Barnes / drums, percussion

Releases information

Amish 014

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
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P. G. SIX Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites ratings distribution

(4 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(75%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

P. G. SIX Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

Upstate NY's Pat Gubler's first solo venture away from the oddball Tower Recordings collective with other TR member Tim Barnes, Parlour Tricks is an incredibly influential album, even if it didn't raise many eyebrows upon the time of its release. Gubler's musical kingdom is between 60's UK folkies like Bert Jansch (and Renbourn as well) and later 70's Anthony Phillips (Genesis' first guitarist) and his Private Parts & Pieces collections, but also fraying with more modern artiste like Loreena McKennitt (can't count Joana Newsom, since she's more recent than Gubler), but also Roy Montgomery's unstructured, minimalist guitar work. Throw in a tad of Nick Drake (not just Gubler's vocals, but Drake's desperately beautiful soundscapes) and you might start to get an idea of their sound. Recorded on the ultra small Amish Records label and graced with a "fantasy prog" artwork, this debut album MUST be heard to be believed.

Right from the first notes of rare and almost forgotten instruments like the kemance or shakuhashi, the short opening intro of the bookending Letter To Lilly St Cyr lets you know you're in a very special musical realm. Between the folk eeriness of String Driven Thing and the acidness of Incredible String Band, this track is THE perfect intro to the rest of the album with its strange woodwinds. Leading to a semi Tull-esque When I Was A Young Man, Gubler's vocals are sounding like a mix of Nick Drake and Bert Jansch, and later, the two-part Divine Invasion, with the acoustic guitar-led first two verses being sung up rapidly then the electric wailings (possibly recorded backwards) are slowly engulfing the acoustic arpeggios. Amazing stuff.

A tense guitar underlined by some woodwind drones in Unteleported Man is definitely terminally hooking the proghead, especially once the flute and harp come to the fore with its Far East connotations then ending in a long psychedelic drone outro. One of the album's best moment, really!! The lengthy but slow-developing Quiet Fan For SK is meandering a bit too endlessly before finally hitting its full stride around the five minute-mark, but once there its eerie beauty will send chills down your spine and curdle your blood. Shepherd follows suit of Young Man and Invasion, with searing but slow guitar wailings, while the Ann Briggs cover of Go Your Way where Gubler is alone singing with his harp in tow (and at times dubbing himself with a flute), until Barnes hurries things up with some percussions. Fallen Leaves follows the same musical soundscape as its predecessor with the harp in the foreground and having some eerie drones throughout.

Although rooted in 60's folk-rock tradition and connected unashamedly to the ancient traditional structures, P.G.Six has something modern and incredibly forward thinking on show here. Gubler's gentle and eerie melodies, sparse singing, sober songwriting, and innovative instrumentation are making Parlor Tricks so successful and a stunningly solemn album. Gubler, using guitars (both acoustic and electric, harps, a diverse array of keyboards and various other even rarer instruments, creates a loosely-knit and unhurried musical gloss, while his TR cohort Tim Barnes adds some sometimes much-needed percussion to give more depth. The closing section of the St Cyr letter is a fitting album outro to one hell of a Wyrd Folk album. Gubler's explorations into early 60's folk and mid-60's folk rock, updated and refreshed by a modern post rock feel and a sometimes lo-fi attitude makes this debut album an extremely important landmark in today's progressive folk (or folk prog), obviously heard by groups like Espers or Long Live Death in their inspirations. Although I wouldn't call this mind-blowing, Parlor Tricks is at least quiet, pensive, reflective, passionate and lazy listenings will yield modest but enduring aural treasures. Much recommended as his its follow-up Well Of Memory, both being anthemic Wyrd folk albums of the new millennium along with Espers' two albums.

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars There are two P.G. Six CDs in my collection: this one, and his latest ‘Slightly Sorry’ (for which he should be). This one was added on the strength of several positive reviews I’d read about Pat Gubler’s post- Tower Recordings solo work. I don’t know much of anything about his other studio releases, but between these two ‘Parlor Tricks & Porch Favorites’ is easily the better piece of work.

P.G. Six (i.e., Pat Gubler and in this case Tim Barnes) undoubtedly have some artistic influences but there aren’t any heavily apparent ones here, so for the most part the listener is left to experience (and hopefully enjoy) Gubler’s own original expressions, which is nice. For those not familiar with P.G. Six, take note that Gubler seems to take the role of independent singer-songwriter/crooner quite literally and seriously, so expect languid and pensive acoustic compositions with rather abstract lyrics, all of which are sung by Gubler himself. If you’re cool with that we can move on; otherwise, you might want to stop here and go find some prog folk with cast-iron balls like Comus or Silmaril something. Don’t forget to take your meds on the way.

This is an almost embarrassingly unassuming production, recorded on four tracks and released as album #14 on the tiny Amish Records label. The liner notes consist of a watercolor head-shot of Gubler and Barnes, a list of the instruments they play, a couple of thanks and Gubler’s contact information. That contact information consists of a post office box number in a tiny upstate New York town and Gubler’s Hotmail account. Like I said, pretty humble. Things would get better for him professionally a few years later when he signed to Drag City Records, but I can’t say the music improved with that move.

Like I explained earlier, this is all understated, slow tempo acoustic music with marginally abstract lyrics (or at least ones that seem to require inside knowledge for a full understanding of their meaning). The instrumentation is all over the place though, including harps, tin whistles, and all manner of hand drums. Gubler seems to have a large collection of exotic instruments, as he finds ways to introduce a Turkish kemance (on “Quet Fan for SK” and probably some other tracks); a ukelin (derived from the zither I believe); shakuhachi (Oriental wood flute – see “When I Was a Young Man” which seems to feature this along with the tin whistle); and one of my favorite keyboard – the archaic and unfashionable (but soul-soothing) farfisa organ.

And speaking of “When I Was a Young Man”, this is one track where a certain influence is too apparent to ignore. Gubler launches into a seventies-era Ian Anderson vocal chant that must have been inspired by him having a woodwind in front of his mouth at the time. The result is actually rather charming though, and this became one of the standout tracks on the album.

The other tune worth pointing out is the Annie Briggs cover “Go Your Way (My Love)”. Briggs sang this once as a duet with Bert Jansch, but Gubler turns it into a long, rambling acoustic lament that’s full of sad, quiet woodwinds, harps and some sort of wooden plucked string instrument (probably the ukelin), plus an extended passage of hand percussion that fills the middle portion of the song. This is a really sad tune in Gubler’s hands, and makes a good musical backdrop for a worthwhile reflective interlude on a Saturday morning while sitting on your back porch. Go ahead and try it.

I was disappointed by P.G. Six’s ‘Slightly Sorry’ release in 2007, and hope Gubler is going to work his way back to more experimental and instrumentally challenging music some time soon. But even if he doesn’t at least this album remains in his repertoire and is well worth picking up. Four stars for the instrumental variety and the inspiring tones of the music.


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