Echoes Icon Patrick O’Hearn returns with Transitions, The Echoes CD of the Month for October
From the opening notes of “Reaching Land,” an echoing piano against a delayed pulse, it’s obvious that Transitions is a Patrick O’Hearn album. It brings up memories of CDs like Indigo and Metaphor with its dark melancholy, hushed lyricism and synth pads of doom. But that’s not to say that Transitions is a retread. Instead it takes him further out on a trail that began in 1985 with his solo debut, Ancient Dreams. That was on Private Music. More than any other artist on that label, O’Hearn lived up to that spirit with deeply personal, introspective recordings. He said he composed that first album alone in hotel rooms while touring with Missing Persons. Just him, a synthesizer and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.
In that regard, it seems not much has changed. Each track on Transitions is a deep exploration of mood. “Restless” pulses with an insistent percussive rhythm while the somnolent melody is carried by O’Hearn on electric bass and arco double bass. It’s one of those tunes that manages to be mournful and quietly triumphal at the same time.
Transitions retains some of the spartan textures of Glaciation, his austere album of ambient chamber music from 2007. There are no big crescendos and the layers aren’t quite as thick as on his classic albums. Even the surging groove of “Reaching Land” is muted. Instead, he lets his melodies stand on their own, like the acoustic “Well Mannered” a trio for acoustic bass, piano and classical guitar, the latter played by Bryan Johnson. It’s a nice contrast to the more synth laden sounds of most of Transitions .
O’Hearn was never just a synthesis, but a bassist who had played modern jazz with Joe Henderson, beyond modern rock with Frank Zappa and new wave pop with Missing Persons. It’s one reason all his albums have such a strong melodic sensibility. A lot of electronic music becomes dated, but not Patrick O’Hearn’s. Transitions is an album that you’ll keep coming back to, in those quiet moments when you need some private music. There’s a good reason why he was voted an Icon of Echoes.
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))