(New Album Review) Patkus- Colors

On his excellent new album Colors, composer and multi-instrumentalist Mike Patkus continues to assert himself as one synthesizing the American fingerstyle guitar tradition with ambient soundscapes- astute listeners will take care to note that his work in this vein is itself part of a tradition, along with Bill Frisell’s Ghost Town, Jim O’Rourke’s Bad Timing, and Daniel Lanois’s Belladonna. The last word we heard from Patkus was the fine Nigel’s Brie, on which he divided time between acoustic and electric pieces and played figures closer to the perimeters of the folk-blues idiom– Colors  is a refinement (or a diffusion?) of the most dense, delicate electric textures to be found on that previous album. Listen to “Sedgwick” off Nigel’s Brie back to back with Colors‘s “Old Futhark” and you can get an idea of which direction Patkus decided to move in for this one.

This new album is aptly named– Colors is all watery abstractions…less driving, rhythmic picking and more glacial drones and repeated phrases softly echoing across the hushed atmosphere. The already strong influence of minimal composition seen earlier has been accentuated to create a resonant and assured emotionalism, distant but warm, that seems to signal Patkus having coming even more into his own stylistically. Listening to tracks like “Two Houses” and “And After the Moon, the Sheltering Sky”, scenes unfold in one’s mind with ease.  Patkus has stripped his constructions down even further, taken his experimentation deeper into uncharted territory and come up with something pretty damn great. Check this one as soon as you can if you are into ambient sounds, post-rock, and experimental takes on folk music.

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