(New Album Review) Patkus- These Are But Dreaming Men, Breathe, and They Fade

On These Are But Dreaming Men, Breathe, and They Fade, Philadelphia’s electric American Primitivism auteur Mike Patkus ventures further into shade than ever before with a seven song collection that is more ruminative and emotionally-entangled than just about anything he’s put out yet. Considering that this guy’s stuff consistently shows him to be a romantic and a minimalist, it may seem an odd comment to make. Allow me to explain.

2015’s soft-focus beauty Colors was a spacious ambient dream– Dreaming Men is not so abstracted as that, in as far as it is more focused on melodies than soundscaping, but it is every bit as textural, only now the textures have become clouded-over with feelings of nostalgia and grief. The swirling loops that make a bed for his insistent arpeggios and melodies are blurred and bleary-eyed at their crumbling edges, giving a sense of time’s thievery as much making a background soundscape. The emotional inspiration for the album came in large part from the death of Mike’s grandmother.  Colors was the ambient album, Nigel’s Brie the one that nodded the most to fingerstyle folk-blues, and Dreaming Men makes clear the influence of post-rock on Patkus’ music in the cinematic, nostalgic effect of its aching, steady repetition. The wistful, wishful thinking of “The Doorbell Requiem of Catherine Philomena” cannot delay the unshakeable questionings of “No God Rang the Bells”– bells rang for a good woman through memory in the former song, but will eternity itself preserve us? The question is as unanswerable as the reason for the fate of the unknown man to which the gorgeous opener “Tamam Shud” refers. The beatific swell of the closer “The Minutes” doesn’t really offer answers either, just the resolution to move on.

These Are But Dreaming Men, Breathe, and They Fade is available as a free download on Patkus’s Bandcamp. Methinks you shouldn’t pass it up.

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