To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie
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To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie


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To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie :: The Patron
Kranky/The Riley Bushman Recordings and Archives
Reviewed by Lauren Mooney

The debut full-length release from To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie entitled The Patron, features the single of the same name. Opening the album, “The Patron” reads like the first chapter of an industrial romance. It’s the classic man versus machine, but in the form of Jehna Wilhem on vocals and guitar versus electronics and sound manipulation courtesy of Mark McGee. Sure, almost all musicians do post-production, but The Patron truly is “about the corruption of an idea that is at first welcomed and later destroyed.” - URB


To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie The Patron Kranky

The Patron is a great offering from the Kranky homies. To Kill’s debut beams with the textured guitar work we’ve come to expect from the label, but with delicate female vocals that bring to mind a heartbroken and bedridden Hope Sandavol. If you want to go to the mountains, sit by a pond, and reflect on life, it would be wise to make this record your travel companion. - XLR8R

"Marlone on Pfork 7.7"


Since it's been such a consistent source of great experimental and drone music over the years, people tend to forget that Kranky is, to a lesser degree, also a pop label. The Chicago imprint was, of course, home to Low for a stretch and in recent years has developed a wider stable of song-friendly artists like Deerhunter and Lotus Plaza. To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie, the Minneapolis-based two-piece of singer Jehna Wilhelm and multi-instrumentalist Mark McGee, aren't easy to place along this continuum since they operate with one foot in the avant-garde and the other in the structural and, like Low or Deerhunter, tend to draw from both schools.

We last heard from the band in 2007 when it debuted with The Patron, a heady concept piece based loosely around the dangers of unchecked capitalism (more prescient now in the wake of that, uh, global economic crisis), but writers and listeners seemed to give too much weight to the record's content instead of its lush sonics. The real appeal of The Patron was the captivating interplay between the group's two members, the way McGee laid a foundation of interwoven post-rock textures over which Wilhelm could paint her ghostly vocals. With new LP Marlone, the group has smartly jettisoned the storyboard conceptualism of its previous work for a deeper exploration of this sound, and the album is more assured and focused as a result.

The style To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie pursue on the record isn't new-- you could lump them in with contemporaries Sian Alice Group, Asobi Seksu, even Palms, and there's certainly a Portishead inspiration at play-- but it's what the band does with its shoegaze and post-rock atmospheres that ultimately sets it apart. Part of it is pacing (the sequencing of the record is superb) and part of it is the delicate balance between the contrasting notions of dark and light, heavy and airy, and gloomy and hopeful. Marlone's individual songs play with these opposites: opener "You've Gone Too Far" explores ambient tones with wide-open spaces, expanding and contracting over its nine minutes before the punchier "The Needle" sweeps in and pushes things in a more forceful direction.

Sometimes they achieve both in the same song. Album centerpiece "I Will Hang My Cape in Your Closet" (bonus points for the super goth title) takes form over a long, scraping instrumental section before Wilhelm introduces a climax of upbeat vocal chants. Most impressive is that they pull off such moments largely without the use of hooks or traditional song structures and, still, the record doesn't wander off course. Instead, TKAPB keep attention with shifts in tone and momentum that seem to appear at just the right time. The most surprising is "In People's Homes", a buoyant two-minute pop cut that springs up virtually out of nowhere to loosen the seriousness of Marlone's second half, which the band then follows up with the industrial dirge "Turriptosis". Such balance is no mean feat and is just one of several pleasant surprises the album has to offer.

— Joe Colly, September 22, 2009 - Pitchfork

"The Patron on Pfork 6.7"


In order to correctly critique capitalist society via anthropomorphic metaphors, Animals needed some talk-box guitar solos. To capture the desperation of a rock star at war with Japanese Robots, Kilroy Was Here needed a short film. To tell the underlying love story of two merging companies, The Patron necessitates a sampler. And some foot-pedals. And probably some Max/MSP plug-ins.

Concept albums are the arbiters of new rock technologies. They're the proving ground where musicians can try out exorbitant, faddish, and gimmicky gadgets to see if they go up to 11. With its hazy abstractions and digital futzing, To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie's concept record The Patron probably makes use of several unproven instruments, and it at least ends up with some pretty decent textures.

The album's convoluted storyline centers on some sort of abstract corporate entity and its eventual slide into betrayal and destruction. Or something like that. Vocalist Jehna Wilhelm's lyrics are too obscured among the showers of reverb and storms of glitchy distortion to catch much of the convoluted sci-fi plot. Meanwhile, the few discernable phrases tend to be oblique I-Ching style couplets like "Generous exchange/ Leave nothing to chance."

But Kraftwerk's Computer World wasn't a great record because of the clarity of its political commentary, but because, with its talking machines and analog synths, it had an amazing sound. Similarly, the crafty manipulation of gadgetry provides The Patron's best moments. "The Man With the Shovel is the Man I'm Going to Marry" slowly evolves from a soothing synth pattern into swirl of chattering drum machines and effect-heavy layered loop-cannons of Wilhelm's tiny voice. On "Long Arms", buzzing samples and distortions give way to a swelling march that recalls the spacey-headed crescendo rock bands.

Compared to the concept albums of the past, though, something seems to be missing. The Patron could use a few drums solos, maybe, or a medley or two. For all of its myriad atmospheric charms, the sampler-and-guitar set-up inhibits TKPB a little. Plodding lifeless rhythms largely dominate the record and any dynamic shifts come slowly, if at all. Not that TKPB have committed a Mindcrime or anything. The Patron's songs may have little in the way of variation or structure, but the duo's combination of pop melody and lo-bit-rate noise provides plenty of lilting and creepy moments. To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie's gadgets don't go up to 11 on The Patron, but they do make a lot of noise.

— Aaron Leitko, November 26, 2007 -

"Marlone on Tiny mix tapes"

Marlone plays out like a fine black-and-white noir — a sound To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie has successfully cultivated and perfected over the course of four years. Theirs is a blend of industrial revolution and Mike Hammer fantasies, with Mark McGee’s electronic manipulations billowing out smoky melodies narrated by Jehna Wilhelm, the nameless lounge singer hiding in the shadows of the regular haunt of a fictional gumshoe. It’s a strange, sexy, and scary scene, beckoning us to pull up a stool and throw back a shot of bourbon as the cat and mouse unfolds between crooks and cops, lovers and fighters.

“You’ve Gone Too Far” is the entrance of our damsel in distress — the melody mimicking her cool and collected synchronized hip-swivel as the arthouse swing of the melody slowly gives way to the clanks and clatter of her multiple neuroses. “Villain” drapes the dubious detective in its rich tapestry with the arrogant filth of Pulp’s “This is Hardcore,” while our double-faced heroine coolly spins her yarn. It’s another sexy melody from the mind of McGee, who blankets Wilhelm’s sultry whisper with equally subtle waves of electronic drone.

As with any good storyteller, the duo slowly immerse the listener into the tale while also keeping them at a distance — you’ll fall in love with the characters and become one with its movements, but you’ll remain disconnected from the melodrama in order to maintain perspective. Marlone is one tantalizing tease after another, a constant rush of hormones that will only make the inevitable explosions — like the orgasmic “I Will Hang My Cape in Your Closet” — that much more pleasing. When the imagery of noir is intertwined with the world of sex, it’s no wonder Marlone is a world of billowing cigarette smoke, conniving vixens, and dog-eared sleuths, complete with the we’ll-always-have-Paris torch song, “Bridgework,” conjuring the locked-in smells of perfume and tobacco.

Each track of Marlone develops as if a chapter, the song titles acting as primers of what is and what isn’t to come. Rather than trampling through noised-out big band jazz that often cleans up the messy crime dramas and twisted love affairs of irrational old Hollywood, McGee and Wilhelm tap into the seedy underbelly of noir. It’s a closet full of Don Draper’s dirty secrets, not the star-crossed hellos and goodbyes of Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund — though, you’ll find yourself murmuring ‘Play it again, Sam’ as To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie continuously break your heart.

1. You’ve Gone Too Far
2. The Needle
3. Villain
4. Along the Line
5. I Will Hang My Cape in Your Closet
6. Bridgework
7. I Hear You Coming But Your Steps Are Too Loud
8. In Peoples’ Homes
9. Turritopsis
10. Summertime

by Jspicer -

"Band to Watch: stereogum"

The first thing that caught our attention about this Minneapolis (via Richmond, VA) boy/gal duo was their name: Hard not flashing back to those olden "punk's not dead!" days when confronted with To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie. After that, we stumbled upon the gorgeous eight-minute, Björkian steam shower, "The Man With The Shovel, Is The Man I'm Going To Marry." Um, not at all what we were expecting.
We weren't too far off, though: Guitarist/vocalist Jehna Wilhelm and electronic sound manipulator Mark McGee's debut full-length The Patron is a concept album, of sort, featuring "an underlying love story between two merging corporations that manage to capture the raw sentiment of isolation, profound discovery, and morbid betrayal." Ambient sci-fi Futurism? You really can hear icy mergers and urban emotional decay. Listen to the distance (and longing) in the airy 4AD vocals, heart beat percussion, guitar scrawl, echo-chamber noise in "I Box Twenty," an intensely escalating Portisheaded standout.
To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie - "I Box Twenty" (MP3)
(Or, just dig the final comet of distortion and sustain...)
While listening to The Patron we thought of Broadcast (see the sheet metal smashing 'n' finger snapping "Lovers And Liars"), Spacemen 3 jamming with Keiji Haino (hail the guitar noise on "You Guys Talk, We'll Spill Our Guts"), Cocteau Twins, early Deerhunter (tuck yourself into various ambient patches), and earlier Björk -- but Wilhelm and McGee, who also run the Riley Bushman Recordings & Archives, have been going at TKAPB (in one form or another) for four years, and ultimately end up sounding very much like themselves. It's an incredibly assured, even brave debut.


A Companion For Afternoon Walks CDr 2003
Weatherly Scott demo CDr 2004
Retire Early EP CD 2005
And their eyes were like flashing screens... 7" vinyl 2004
Venture Dearly 7" vinyl 2006
The Patron CD 2007 Kranky
Marlone CD 2009 Kranky

Radio play:
KUOM 770 Radio K, Minneapolis
KFAI 90.3/106.7 FM, Minneapolis
KVSC 88.1 FM, St. Cloud, MN
KUMD 103.3 FM, Duluth, MN
KMSU 89.7FM, True Punks Do Electro, Mankato, MN
KRLX 88.1 FM, Northfield, MN
KALX Top 35, April 2006
640 AM / 89.3 FM, WTBU Boston University
WHFR 89.3 FM, Detroit
KVRX 91.7FM , Austin, TX
89.3 The Current, Minneapolis, MN



Jehna Wilhelm began working with Mark McGee in the fall of 2001 through rough recordings sent across the Atlantic. This collection of work finally consummated in 2003 with their first performance in Richmond, VA. A series of self-released albums, EP’s, and collaborations soon followed. With the interest in forging a destructive sound with torrent lullabies, and excitement for irregular rhythm and minimalist composition, they took the name To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie as a description for this endeavor. Operating on the effected loops and electronics of Mark McGee and the lush vocal style and the delicate song writing of Jehna Wilhelm, To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie conveys a dark and brooding world of folding hands, replaceable automatons, and scrounging executives. They currently live in NE Minneapolis, MN and have expanded their line up to include vocalist, Mona Ginsberg and Cello player, Anna Rodell.

To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie's song writing typically begins with a basic vocal and guitar structure which is then slowy developed by adding electronics and manipulating sounds, until the orignal outline is blurred yet still identifiable. The steady passing of sounds and samples are most important to TKAPB’s recording process, and they rely heavily on the loss of translation between each pass.

But the importance of the technical details of any sound recording should be considered infinitesimally small when measured against the end result. Many sound artists have read both the pop and noise manifestoes and tried to join the two seemingly opposed theories into a cohesive whole, yet few have succeeded. Invariably, the artist makes a conscious or subconscious decision to stand firmly in the one camp where their beliefs truly lie and to occasionally tip the cap to the other to remind both themselves and the listener of their original intent. What TKAPB have produced however, is a near perfect storm of structure and chaos, melody and noise, the precise and the random, fused into their own unified musical theory of everything that at times soothes while simultaneously grabbing your throat.