(New Album Review) Patkus- Nigel’s Brie

Philadelphia composer and multi-instrumentalist Patkus is a self-confessed disciple of John Fahey who also has a strong fondness for post-rock and modern classical. On his new album Nigel’s Brie, he offers a compelling mixture of Americana, ambient atmospherics, and minimalist approaches to composition.

Though his main suit as an artist is that of one continuing the American fingerpicking tradition, Patkus is an emotionally sophisticated composer and technically sophisticated producer– the soft bass tones of his acoustic guitar are not just framed by but also mesh with looped electric sounds and percussion. Think one of Daniel Lanois’s instrumental productions immersed in but not overwhelmed by the pall of winter.

It’s an incredibly gentle but also incredibly absorbing album. A piece like “Joy, For The One Who Matters Most”  has a lilt from the real folk-blues and a mysterious sense of eternity and ellipsis from Steve Reich. I still can’t get “Ackley Kid” out of my head…and not just because that’s a reference to what’s unashamedly one of my favorite books of all time. As with much great minimal music, Nigel’s Brie constructs something emotionally complex out of a seemingly simple palette. Highly recommended to fans of post-rock, ambient music and sound art, modern composition, and American primitivism.

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