I was sent the new album Earthlight-Music For Documentary & Film by the multi-talented Tony Patterson a few weeks ago with a list of instructions for its consumption. Many of Tony’s fans and followers know him as the front man for Re-Genesis and more recently So-Gabriel; however, Mr Patterson is best described as multi-dimensional with regard to his musical direction. For those of you expecting an album that continues from where his recent “All The World” EP left of then you may be left a little wanting.
The first time I ever heard music by Tony Patterson was the utterly spellbinding album RA. I had previously seen Tony sing and play flute with Re-Genesis performing The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. It was then that I realised that he was a musician with many strings to his bow and touched by many influences. It will come as no surprise then that many well-known pieces adorning tv adverts and the like were written and recorded by Tony Patterson.
Earthlight-Music For Documentary And Film has not been created as library music for the afore mentioned applications, it has lovingly been constructed meticulously with feeling and the want to demonstrate another side to Tony Patterson’s multi-faceted musical personality. How to describe this new venture then? I would describe it as ambient. Quite a departure from Tony’s previous work and something I found interesting and, tranquil and instantly accessible. I think the phrase chill-out may spring to mind with many listeners though I much prefer ambient myself.
It was suggested that I listened to Earthlight via headphones under the effect of low light etc. However, having a very full schedule lately I resorted to listening whilst travelling to and from work in the car. Not at all the ideal environment for such music, however, for reasons that will be explained later many of the pieces throughout the album became quite poignant whilst listened to in this way. “Stormchaser” and Nature’s Way” begin this musical document in a grand style. Utilising the timbre and sumptuous textures of an orchestra (something that Tony is passionate about) it reminded me of the drama and urgency created so beautifully at the beginning of the first batman movie. After listening to these two wonderful mini scores the pace becomes much slower, quieter and atmospheric.
“December Skies” glassy and holographic soundscape really does represent the cold edge of winter air very well and sets the tone for the ensuing “Nightseeker” which continues the tranquillity almost sleepy nature of the album. A slightly more American feel is invoked by the inclusion of a Flugel horn, something I think lovers of William Orbit may find themselves entranced by. “Into The Night” is a perfect continuation of this theme utilising sounds first explored by Yello to great effect.
“Consequence” demonstrates Tony Patterson’s immense talent for getting the strings on his albums to sound damned near perfect. A talent envied by many and seldom matched. No doubt brought about with his close work with the orchestra. In a world where a myriad of string software packages and sounds reside Tony manages to get it right every time. This is evident elsewhere on the album on my favourite piece “Discovery”. Giving the impression of space travel “Discovery “exudes Tony Patterson’s love of the late John Barry reminding me of the space sequences in Moonraker. Truly wonderful stuff! I would describe this divine all too short piece as an oasis of serenity.
The penultimate piece on the album “Age Of Reason” heralds the reprise of the opening track “Stormchaser” and it’s aggressively bowed string section and some eerie vocal exploits by session gal Shirley Ware. The cello’s adding a sense of drama to the occasion before concluding with the metronomic finale “Skyward”. The stark electronically percussive pulse and special synth tones fade into infinity giving the feeling of a soul ascending. Thought provoking and soothing, “Skyward terminates Tony Patterson’s richest and ultimately satisfying pallets of musical colour and shades to date.
Music For Documentary And Film. Yes I would agree. Set any of the pieces from Earthlight to something like the recent BBC natural history series “The Frozen Planet” and they will fit like hand in glove. However, my recent exploits whilst listening to Earthlight within the confines of my car made me view the documentary of life going on all around me. Whilst travelling through fog laden streets one dark December morning, Pieces like “Slow Waters” and “Colours” acted as a score for the bleak happenings outside. On one occasion I was made to reflect about better times and also the plight of others as they trudged through the freezing cold fog in their work attire.
Whilst on first listening Earthlight is instantly enjoyable. On further exploration it becomes multifunctional. Whilst displaying atmospheric ambience that can invoke many emotions depending on mood and method of playback, Earthlight does what it says on the tin, although I happen to think it represents more than that. In many ways it reflects many sides of the composers own personality, passion and deft of hand.
Earthlight-Music For Documentary And Film will be available to download from I-Tunes from January 30th 2012 price £6.99.
Prior to this it will be available to download from www.tonypatterson.co.uk