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P. G. SIX

Prog Folk • United States


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P. G. Six biography
P.G. for Pat Gubler, a veteran nowadays of the Wyrd/freak/Pagan folk scene, who started with upstate New York's TOWER RECORDINGS collective that recorded some six albums before he left them in 2001 to start a solo career. He was their UK-Brit folk conscience and his solo recordings have indeed taken the same direction, often eyeing towards BERT JANSCH (of Pentangle fame) or The INCREDIBLE STRING BAND. As a matter of fact since Pat left TR, the collective's general output has seriously taken a downswing curve, quality-wise.

So PG formed his (more or less) solo project P.G. Six and in 01 released "Parlor Tricks And Porch Favorites" on the ultra confidential Amish Record label. The music developed is a progressive folk that relates strongly to Brit folk and is now regarded as an underground classic album. The following "Well Of Memory", released three years later, is an even more mature and has an eerie feel! This is generally seen as Gubler's best album so far!

The all-instrumental "Music From The Sherman Box Series & Other Works" released in 06, still on Amish Records, is more axed towards chamber music, as it contains mainly harp-only works (much like the recent little wonder of Joana Newsom, minus her irritating vocals) under different settings. Most impressive in this album, is a 12-mins rework of his 95 single The Book Of Rayguns for six electric guitars.

His most recent album, "Slightly Sorry" was released on Drag City (the growing label in freak/pagan folk, and housing the similar-sounding ESPERS as well) is more axed to singer/songwriters folk and late 60's folk rock groups like ISB, PENTANGLE and FAIRPORT CONVENTION.




Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Excellent new pagan/wyrd prog folk



Discography:
Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites (2001)
The Well of Memory (2004)
Music For The Sherman Box Series and Other Works (2005)
Slightly Sorry (2007)

P. G. Six official website

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P. G. SIX discography


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P. G. SIX top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites
2001
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Well of Memory
2004
3.00 | 1 ratings
Music For The Sherman Box Series and Other Works
2005
2.49 | 3 ratings
Slightly Sorry
2007
4.00 | 1 ratings
Starry Mind
2011

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P. G. SIX Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Starry Mind by P. G. SIX album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Starry Mind
P. G. Six Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

— First review of this album —
4 stars With the previous aptly-titled Slightly Sorry, Pat Gubler makes up for it, by issuing a much better Starry Mind, even if he keeps the standard 70's folk rock group formula that was used previously. But instead of sounding straight west-coast and Fairport-like, he adds a few Pentangle or early-Strawbs. The siongs range from the 3-mins Hang Heavy until the 6-mins+ Palace and Talk Me Down.

Armed with a na´ve sunny folk artwork, Starry Mind features more or less the same double- guitar quartet, but sounds much more inspired, and a tad more British, with the odd Tull influences or even some raunchy Neil Young or Bert Jansch-y guitar parts. Once again (and sadly enough), no trace of Gubler's distinctive harp, that graced his early solo career.

Although the album's overall energy level is pretty even throughout the album, there is a slow intensity build up that culminates with the second last track. One of the attraction about SM is the thrashy guitar sounds, especially when mixed with the cool vocals, reminiscent of Jansch or Anderson, like in Letter. The album-shortest Days Hang Heavy is also the quieter, bit like an acoustic track from Aqualung.

One of the album's peaks is the awesome and energetic Talk Me Down, where both guitars unleash like if Everybody Knew This Was Nowhere. The following slow and heavy-riffy Wrong Side Of Yesterday has some flute-less Tull Benefit influences, while the later Crooked Way is climbing one more echelon up the electric ladder, only to let the closing calmer the organ- drenched (courtesy of Gubler) This Song

A much better album than the previous Slightly Sorry release (so were we, Pat), SM is still quite a stretch from his extraordinary first two albums Porch Favourites and Well Of Memory, but this quite a pleasant surprise and reversal of the downward spiral started with the weird Sherman Box.

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 Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites by P. G. SIX album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites
P. G. Six Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

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.

peace

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 Slightly Sorry by P. G. SIX album cover Studio Album, 2007
2.49 | 3 ratings

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Slightly Sorry
P. G. Six Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars I suppose this is sort of a 21st century version of selling out for a folk act. On his latest album Pat Gubler, better known as P.G. Six, has apparently abandoned his fetish for weird and obscure folk instruments and unique arrangements in favor of what can best be described as a fairly conservative series of west-cost pop-folk numbers. Perhaps the catalyst is his switch from the low-key indie label Amish Records in favor of Drag City, home to neo-psychfolk darlings Espers, Joanna Newsom, and the very tastefully named bluesman Randall of Nazareth.

In any case this is the most staid and unambitious work to come from Gubler in his lengthy and otherwise impressive career. The bands that immediately came to mind when I first listened to this album were CSNY and (of all things) Ben Folds Five. After several spins I’ve decided that’s a bit harsh, and am willing to spot Gubler the seventies pop-folk crooners America and maybe a little James Taylor as well.

Seriously though, there isn’t much to point to on this album that is innovative, captivating or even very interesting. Pretty much all the weird acoustic instruments from his previous albums are back on the shelf, and Gubler seems to be content to simply alternate between picking and strumming his acoustic guitar and plunking away on various outmoded keyboards. Former Tower Recordings songstress Helen Rush shows up once again with decent but rather conventional vocals, as does Aquanettas singer Debby Schwartz, Megan Reilly and Run On vocalist Sue Garner. Gubler has an actual band backing him, sort of. Bob Bannister and Robert Dennis of the oddball psych-rockers Tono Bungay man guitars, drums and Fender piano, while alt.country rocker Steve Connolly plays bass. But really these are only minor backdrops to Gubler’s vocals and that persistently plucky acoustic guitar.

Nothing really stands out here, although I will mention that “The Dance” and “Strange Messages” are the CSN&Y-sounding tunes; “I’ve Been Traveling” and “Not I the Seed” are the James Taylor clones; and “Lily of the West” qualifies as the America spin- off. Gubler's singing throughout accounts for the Ben Folds reference. The closing “Sweet Music” is the most interesting track (relatively-speaking) with some slightly peppy organ, a gospel-like tempo, and some pretty decent electric blues guitar in the latter part of the tune. But that’s about it.

‘Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites’ is an adventure in odd instrumentation and unique, almost wyrd folk arrangements. But this isn’t that album, and it isn’t up to par for what one should expect from Pat Gubler. For fans of the man maybe, but this one won’t win him any new fans I don’t believe. Two stars.

peace

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 Music For The Sherman Box Series and Other Works by P. G. SIX album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Music For The Sherman Box Series and Other Works
P. G. Six Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

— First review of this album —
3 stars Gubler's third album is a really a bit of a compilation between his third album proper Sherman Box Series (music created to accompany an exhibition of Chistine Kroll's collages in 2005 in New Jersey) and his other works collected instrumental pieces from across Gubler's career. Again released on the ultra-small specialized label Amish Records, the album is graced with some of Kroll's works, which are also featured on his previous two albums.

While the Sherman Box Series pieces are usually just harp and derivate instruments solo pieces that would fit a lot of new age albums, Gubler's sparse use of minimal electronics, Gubler ghosts the instrumental pieces, dropping tiny music motifs and folk influences between the harp's strings. Although not really as fascinating as its two predecessors, the most surprising thing about this album is how well it runs out of the exhibition visual context in which it was intended to be heard, retaining enough of the listener's attention not to sound trite and stale. In many ways, the UK folk rock of Bert Jansch, Nick Drake and Anthony Phillips is completely absent; and in some tracks, we are closer to dronal free-jazz or improvs, not far away from completely whacked out Hala Strana's most bizarre folk forays.

The other part of the album is two tracks from different eras of Gubler's life, the first of which is the 12-mins+ Book Of Rayguns, originally recorded on a single as far back as 95 and played by friend Tom Keller, an abstract piece toying away with contemporaneous music inspired by composer DJ Mizelle and post rock allures on electric guitar beddings. Cartographies is a revisit from another track composed around the same time (95) but this time influenced by Morton Feldman's music. This free-improv piece is just piano and electronics toyings.

Sherman Box stands a little outside the usual P.G. Six discography, it is not quite as essential to progheads, but certainly doesn't deserve their ignorance either. If the seven exhibition pieces are holding their own together as a unit, the two outside pieces are not exactly fitting into the mould of the album, thus creating a bit of a mish-mash of "anything-goes".

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 Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites by P. G. SIX album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites
P. G. Six Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

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.

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 The Well of Memory by P. G. SIX album cover Studio Album, 2004
5.00 | 1 ratings

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The Well of Memory
P. G. Six Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

— First review of this album —
5 stars PG6's second album, The Well Of Memory is, incredibly enough, an improvement over his debut solo effort Parlor Tricks And Porch Favorites, even though it was regarded as an icon in Pagan/Wyrd/freak folk circles. Gubler took three years to follow up on Parlor, and indeed the results are definitely convincing, as Well is an amazing cross of dronal music, with pure folk and some medieval influences. While I would certainly not call PG6 derivative, TWOM has Bert Jansch written all over it, not least induced by Pat's superb voice, and this is a high compliment!! The album was again released by Amish records and graced by Christine Kroll's collage artworks already seen in the debut album and these very same collages will be the center of PG6's next album, through an exhibition: The Sherman Box Series.

Right from the echo-laden harp strummings, the listener is pleasantly chilled with the eerie ambiances pervading and oozing through every pore of your speaker membrane. The slow start of the title track's first part seems made to test your patience, but it slowly evolves into a sometimes atonal pickings over dronal layers covering the track like on a foggy reef-laden seacoast. When the mesmerizing lead-off track segues to the evolving Come In /The Winter It Is Past, there is a banjo picking (a cross of Bert Jansch meeting Woven Hand) shifting slowly and effortlessly into a guitar-lead trad folk that could easily be attributed to The Pentangle. The traditional Old Man On The Mountain is just adding more enchantment, and if not groundbreaking, it is certainly very British evoking.

Other later (and also shorter) tracks are sometimes intrinsically tied, as the short Harp Tune has the harp segueing into the vocal-only Evening Comes. With the delightful guitar arpeggios of Crooked Way, comes out for a second appearance, Helen Rush and her filtered dreamy voice will contrast so perfectly with Gubler's that again you'd swear you're transported back some 35 years. A stunning electric guitar feast is highlighting Considering The Lateness Of The Hour and ends abruptly to let the weaker track, the electric guitar-driven Three Stages Of A Band, with a repeated riff and book-ended by acoustic intro/outro.

The second part of the title track is again relying on misty banks of drone sounds, often atonal with his usual string instruments piercing uselessly the fog with a knife as the mist reforms as soon as the blade is gone. The album closes on the intimate Weeping Willow, where Helen Rush helps out vocally once more, but it is also fairly insignificant after hearing the whole album. Gubler toils away slowly (away from public exposure pressures), transmuting craft practice into artisan design, stealthily worrying away at musical arrangements for yet accessible songs.

TWOM is a stunning album that belongs in Folk Rock's history and the strange artwork collages of the booklet only add to its mysterious charm. While not really groundbreaking, per se, TWOM is certainly using enough avant-garde spirit and techniques, which every progheads must at least hear a few times before dying. Their lives simply wouldn't complete without being familiar to PG6.

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 Slightly Sorry by P. G. SIX album cover Studio Album, 2007
2.49 | 3 ratings

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Slightly Sorry
P. G. Six Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars The latest (so far) album of PG Six is not exactly answering the expectations that one fan would've had following his first three albums. Indeed, hardly anything to do with them as there is almost no UK folk influence; this album concentrates on folk rock from the other side of the Atlantic (theirs), and even then, Gubler does not look at his own Appalachian Mountains folk music; but heads directly west coast. Another thing that sets this album apart from his discography is that there is a full band (drums, bass, electric guitar) behind Gubler, even if he still pulls the huge share of playing diverse instruments, including an array of vintage keyboards (Wurlitzer, Hammond, Vox Continental) and a mellotron.

While unmistakably folk rock music, Gubler's surprising choice of direction in this album makes you wonder if it is indeed the same artist that recorded this album. Although you can still hear some Bert Jansch here and there, you'll more likely hear some CSN&Y influences (the album's best track being Strange Messages), Byrds' Twangle Jangle guitars (I've Been Travelling) and some later- Fairport and Richard Thompson twinges and even some Pentangle (mostly due to Gubler's Jansch-like timbre), but it all sounds slightly (but not overly) stale, even if flawlessly played. Helen Rush (from the Tower Recordings collective) is again present on vocals (as duets on three tracks including the other album highlight, End Of Winter), as are three other female vocalists, just providing a choral tone here and there. Unfortunately for PG's folk, his organ choices are not the wisest as Bless This blues and the closing Sweet Music are just not what you await from Gubler, the later track even pulling on Soul music..

Don't get me wrong, here, there's nothing wrong with Slightly Sorry (actually it's an enjoyable laidback album), but it's just lacking the ambitions of its predecessors. Hopefully Gubler will make this a one-off experience. Best start elsewhere to discover Gubler's superb aptitudes at excellent progressive folk

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Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition.

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