Esoteric Antenna 2016
Well-balanced observations from a watcher of skies who looks beyond the horizon.
Playing in a long-running cover band may be a limit for some people but not for Tony Patterson whose fronting of ReGENESIS distills a retro sound, when the singer is in a solo mode, into something completely different from a neo-prog fare. So whereas Tony exploits traditional art-rock paradigm on “Equations Of Meaning” – Patterson’s first album of original music under his name in a decade – the exploration of familiar idioms is refracted through the composer’s film work, although whatever concept has been fed into this record, as hinted at by the sky references, remains unclear. And if the sky’s the limit of one’s imagination, there’s a lot of space for it to run wild towards materializing the elusiveness set in the celestial opening of “Ghosts” into something shaped in “The Kindest Eyes” as a very perceptible feeling.
That’s why organ-stricken solemnity is balanced with a kiss of acoustic six-string here, while an aural picture wills concrete imagery – street noise, church bells; all played rather than sampled – into sonic existence to envelop the listener in a strangely alluring alienation. Floating forward to the fusion of “The Angel And The Dreamer” with Siobhan Magnus’ voice and bodhran beat, building tension in a tangle of synth strains before notes off a horn soar to the sun, the pieces create a rarefied atmosphere. As a result, Tony’s vocal harmonies on “The Magdalene Fields” stage a meeting of old friends on a golf course, drifting from hole to hole in a blissful motion, until Nick Magnus’ keyboards dye “Each Day A Colour” in a merrier way to add spring to the songs’ step and guitars engage in a lucid jangle.
Warm and elegant, the arc bridging “Beneath A Perfect Sky” and “And When The Sky Was Opened” gets high on shimmering splashes of ivories, as Tony paints a pastel-hued landscape, yet the new-age glide of “Sycophant” is unfolding into a delirious dance – spiked with a cinematic spoken word. There’s serenity, to contrast this mood, in “As The Lights Go Out” featuring the chilling classical piano of Brendan Eyre, Patterson’s partner on 2014’s “Northlands,” as gentle flute weaves around its drops and brings that celestial call back again. Yet, ultimately, the album is resolved in a down-to-earth swoop – slowed down sliding to the meaning of the title: the meaning of mundane life, the regular wonder of it all, the quandary of its balance with heaven – a suspended moment which the singer captures so perfectly. Here’s a spiritual joy on this record waiting to be delved in.