Those Who Walk Away is a contemporary music project helmed by composer Matthew Patton, also incorporating members of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra. New piece The Infected Mass mixes classical instrumentation with sinister drones and, remarkably, recordings from the black boxes of aircraft in distress, which certainly makes this a powerful listen. Released by Constellation.
8/10 Robin Staff review, 16 March 2017
This one marks the start of a brand new year for my ever-beloved Constellation Records, who are setting themselves up to have another beautiful banner year. ‘The Infected Mass’ is the first entry on the imprint for Matthew Patton, a sound artist and score dabbler who’s recently written music for dance pieces and orchestras. Here, he’s focusing on a deeply personal project born of an unknowable distress -- these field recordings, drones and violin pieces serve as an ode to fallen and crashed planes, with many samples taken from airplane cockpits facing devastation.
Describing Patton’s Those Who Walk Away project as unsettling would be the understatement of the century, and this music could be considered transgressive were it not for the context it’s placed in: Patton’s brother was killed in a plane crash, and he speaks to his own unease about needing to source these sounds and turn them into music. In its droning figures and spectral choir performances, the record lays out Patton’s own reservations about the disturbing nature of the project.
The music itself is beautiful, a sorrowful collection of neo-classical that’s always misted over by bassy drones that seem to coat over the ears before anything else can get to them. The strings -- a medley of violas, cello and double bass -- are played with both a sharpness and melodicism, often existing only in brief motifs that feel floated, not necessarily related but sharing the same space. These tracks segue between conversations happening over cockpit intercoms detailing flight problems and field recordings that sound like they’ve been taken in empty corridors, creating the feeling of a wide open waiting room. Be warned: this is a highly upsetting listen, but one that Patton has made with great meticulousness. It is a truly excellent work. Constellation compare it to the classicism of Feldman, and it rings true -- if he’d been releasing on their label.
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