Symphonic melancholy. Damn! If it sounds this intelligent, this enticing and this beautiful then please go right ahead and sign me up. Patrick Moleswoth’s debut album is an elegant, refined and frankly quite magnificent tour de force of musical finesse and ingenuity. Every element of this album, from the booklet, the production values, to the music itself, exudes a beguiling class and softly captivating charm.
Intuitive, discerning lyrics wrestle with the idiosyncrasies of life, carry emotional resonances which echo our ceaseless struggles to make sense of personal experiences and reach out to grapple with our sense of who we are during the time spent on this earth. Yet the spectacular achievement of this album is that, initially at least, you barely notice as the seductive allure of the silky smooth music caresses, envelops and enfolds you.
The comforting welcome of this warm musical embrace brings with it an almost reassuring feeling of recognition which goes some way in creating this sense of symphonic melancholy. From the very beginning it feels like spending time with a dear and trusted friend who you haven’t seen for a while. Here melancholy is akin to reminiscence; a gloriously affirming and uplifting mood of pensive conversations on lazy summer days, wistfully shared memories as the mind roams, perfectly at ease, buoyed and transported by the music.
Nor is it long before we meet an old friend face to face. Anyone who wants to learn the true art of homage can do no better than listen to Weight of the World. Beginning with a short but instantly recognisable musical phrase from Supertramp, by the time you hear it a second time, it has become transformed and adventurously turned into something new. This short track looks at the original idea and runs off in new directions, riffing, exploring, teasing and experimenting as it does so.
The development is poised and unruffled. It takes all the time it needs to get to where it wants to go. Melancholic homage becomes reverential nostalgia, enthralling, creative, inventive. Whilst lyrically there is a dabbling with the sense of the futility of what we do, musically we are treated to some fabulous bluesy, soulful solo guitar filling the musical spaces; listen carefully to what the drums are doing in the background, particularly toward the end, with some exquisitely playful tinkering with the cymbals and high-hat.
Living on the Water continues the same atmosphere but brings a different and more infectious rhythm to the party. The deceptively chilled guitar works only because of the wonderfully propulsive groove being laid down in the background, a compelling, urging, at times mesmerising swing which highlights a series of inspiring musical interactions.
The symphonic part of the melancholy shouldn’t be forgotten either. The ten tracks paint an adventurous canvass of overlapping but distinctive styles and genres, betraying an interesting variety of influences. The upbeat and instrumentally energetic Itchy Feet is a foot tapping groove which we meet again in a different guise in Tricks and Tragedy. Groove turns to a kind of proggy pop, highlighted in a spectacular sound stage where a guitar led repeated refrain exudes a sad mournfulness whilst building to a sombre crescendo before returning again to the same sense of energy first encountered on the opening track.
In between we have the easy, smoky, wistful Smile, a classic slow burner which leads to the most superb soaring guitar solo. The pace changes again for See Me Fly which has a sprightly jazz, almost improv vibe, in turn supported by a jaunty rhythm and joyful feeling of spontaneity. Note also the length: at 2.35, Molesworth is excellent at capturing the essence of the idea he wants to express and then moves on. Enjoy it for what it is: no need to linger, no need for excess.
Designer Crime announces another change of pace and mood. An upbeat tempo with great repeating keyboard soundscape offers a scathing social critique of cultural excess and pretence. Again, listen for some delightful teasing cymbal work. Across this album the drumming is nothing short of an absolute pleasure. Feel So Real slows the pace a little, darkens the mood but lights up the soundstage with a glorious set of guitar interjections and solos. The way keys and guitar unite to capture mood and atmosphere is enthralling.
It has taken me over a year to stumble across this remarkable little musical gem. Since doing so it has rarely been off my player. The sheer pleasure of the insights it offers whenever you listen, combined with the sublime musical elegance and sophistication it radiates, gives a deep feeling of satisfaction few other recordings can match. It is certainly my ‘must have’ album of the year.
01. Itchy Feet (3:32)
02. Smile (7:01)
03. Tricks And Tragedy (5:52)
04. The Tick Tock (4:41)
05. See Me Fly (2:35)
06. Weight Of The World (3:47)
07. Designer Crime (5:17)
08. Living On The Water (5:50)
09. Feel So Real (7:01)
10. Out Of The Blue (8:00)
Total Time – 53:36
Patrick Molesworth – Piano, Keyboards, Orchestral Arrangements, Lead & Backing Vocals
Manna Ash – Drums
Mike Bennett – Drums
Nobby Birch – Drums
Geoff Bolam – Bass, Guitars
Esta B. Daley – Backing vocals
Tony Dodd – Bass
Tony Dubinski – Guitars, Acoustic Guitar
I-Chen Huang – Spoken Contributions
Orsola Muscia – Spoken Contributions
Record Label: Zeelley Moon Music
Formats: CD, Download
Date of Release: 2nd July 2017