When looking at Duncan Patterson’s tenure past and present in such acts as Anathema, Antimatter and Ion, you know that he is more than capable of composing music that draws from outside the box and stimulates the senses.
His latest project Alternative 4, a collaboration with Australia’s The Eternal vocalist/guitarist Mark Kelson, carries on in a similar tradition with The Brink, a dark and ambient aural journey that is cinematic in its approach.
As the album’s opening credits roll, the title track sets the scene with ominous piano and a haunting male voice that segues into “False Light”, a twisting composition that shifts and alternates throughout from delicate and ominous and then the listener is hit immediately with a doom-like display, with Kelson’s haunting vocals only adding to the atmosphere. This ain’t no fairytale, folks.
Each song has a unique feel, and they all fall into place quite nicely. “Still Waters” conjures a feeling of Jeff Buckley’s Grace but vocally it is driven with darker emotion from Kelson, whereas “The Dumbing Down” is more in the vein of 60-70s progressive music, especially Pink Floyd. “Underlooked” hangs over the listener’s head like a bloodthirsty killer intensely following one’s every move, waiting for the right time to strike, “Alternate” has a folkish feel driven by acoustic guitars and organs that are delicate but counterbalanced by bombastic bursts of gothic metal darkness at various intervals throughout. “Automata” is a little lighter than the darker forays with a male and female vocal duet between Kelson and Gina Rios, singer for Mexico’s Scapegoat, and “Autonoma” utilizes soft piano with a choir like some sort of spiritual salvation.
The closing track “The Brink (Reprise)” is a haunting 15 minute composition that sends chills down the spine with similar vocals to “Autonoma”, making a journey through the mind and psyche, mentally and spiritually.
The Brink is an album that needs to be heard in its entirety, so everything that is happening in the music can soak in. It may take a few listens, but eventually The Brink will captivate and stimulate the mind, body and soul. For fans of Patterson’s previous musical ventures, there is plenty here to enjoy, and for those who like music that doesn’t subscribe to what is considered commercial it will be worth giving The Brink a listen.
1. The Brink
2. False Light
5. Still Waters
6. The Dumbing Down
9. The Brink (reprise)