A black gloved hand, reaching out to stroke a larger, bare one, set against a fuzzy, purple-and-blue backdrop. That’s the cover of Pictureplane’s Thee Physical, and that’s really all you need to know what you’re about to get into. There will be plays with gender, power, and sexuality. It will be lo-fi. It will sound like Prince in some parts, and it will sound early ’90s dance music in others. Around the halfway mark, you will wonder if this is the musical equivalent of the Helvetica font.
There are some things that Thee Physical’s cover will not prepare you for. Like how Travis Egedy, the sole force behind the project, has a voice that sounds oddly like John Mayer’s. Or how Egedy has an ability to take his influences and apply techniques more typical of hip-hop production to them, which is totally awesome and totally unexpected. The House-y piano keys that fade out with the indifference of an errant snare on “Body Mod,” are an especially nice touch.
Egedy comes out of the Denver, Colorado DIY scene typified by house shows and tape trading, and the punk aesthetic of his native scene shines through here. Egedy clearly loves the stuff he’s working with here – mainly old-school, big room House with a little trance (“Trancegender”) and techno (“Techno Fetish”) thrown in for good measure – but he trusts his own instincts enough to make its own, throwing a few layers of scuzz on it and warping the whole shebang with his John-Mayer-by-way-of-Prince vocals.
It’s important to note that you can have all the production tricks and stellar influences in the world, but it don’t mean shit if you don’t have the songs to back it up. And Pictureplane has the songs. His aren’t the most complex tracks in the world, but they have a way of ferreting themselves into your brain with almost scary ease. Whether it’s “Post Physical,” with its lyrical build-up to its titular phrase, or “Trancegender,” which, amazingly enough, succeeds at being the sequel to Prince’s “If I Was Your Girlfriend” that The Purple One never asked for.
Simply put, this album is more than pretty good. It is house music for people who usually go to house shows. It is Prince if Prince had been in a DIY/lo-fi punk scene. It is chillwave as made by an insane person. It is just an album that you should listen to as soon as you can.