Introducing a soul-funk explosion with a brilliantly topical, uplifting undertone – Patrick Ames rebrands his sound once again with this collaborative new project; freshly crafted by means of purely online connections throughout a tumultuous 2020.
Openly focused on the bright side for the most part, the unity and the idea of supporting our communities and each other, The Virtualistics feels deeply relevant yet hopeful in both musicality and lyric.
Consider the opener, an anthem of gospel vocal oneness and funky guitar rhythms – Help People Up by its very name promises to inspire a sense of all of us being in this together. And the album continues to conceptually and energetically lift its listener up in similarly creative ways.
With Second Wave, a stylish bass-led groove and reverb-kissed vocals detail the virus and its effects on society. Still there’s a level of fun to the sound, alongside the realness of anger and uncertainty lyrically. A creative side-step from the opener but still well-rooted in this engaging collaborative sound.
Rubber And Glue switches gears again with its Americana folk swagger and the almost freestyle nature of the vocal layers as they intertwine throughout. A mellow groove, quietly sung, with flickers of solo here and there, the track takes a poetic approach that utilises metaphor to connect on a less literal more inclusive level. A catchy number, slowly and softly weaving its way into your consciousness.
An intriguing highlight, beginning with the provocative science of ‘You replace yourself every seven years.’, Great Bunch Of Molecules is brilliant, quirky enough to grab attention, delicate and expressive enough to hold on to it until the end, and immediately memorable overall. Spacious, minimalist, vocally raspy and intimate, perhaps a little raw but both humorous and rather heart-breaking regardless – really well-placed within the collection.
Two words we’ve all come to recognise and respect and question throughout the past year and a half – Essential Worker kicks in with a strong groove, a full-band vibe, and a quickly infectious melody.
Then we get the musician’s contemplation, Songwriter’s Block ironically proving an absolute musical highlight. Unusual key melodies create a haunting contrast to the breathy, soulful choir of voices that call out miscellaneously in the distant. The lyrics are as absurd as writer’s block itself, with vowel sounds and absolute nothingness at their core, but you barely notice this as the wonder of the music rains down. An enjoyably ambient, immersive listen, that quite effectively inspires the artist audience to reach for the pen or the guitar and soak up the moment. Possibly the best or most enjoyable track on the album.
The soulful swagger and seductive rasp of a groovy You Make Me Scream howls through at the penultimate moment with a sort of classic Patrick Ames personality and presence. Then the bass-thick and funky live-band sound of Reawakened 2020 offers an addictive little melody and lyric to leave a clear sense of possibility and hope. Something of an indie anthem with punk-like tendencies in topic, the track closes down this project with a bang, and reminds listeners of the positivity and promise of the opener – and indeed of the things we can achieve when we focus on the good in the world. A job well done.