Patrick O’Hearn: Glaciation (self-released)
It’s been awhile since a disc of ethereal, slow-moving instrumental music (this once would have been called “new age”) has captured my imagination like Patrick O’Hearn’s Glaciation has. Like the glaciers and icebergs that adorn the lovely CD package, these compositions have a spare, mysterious, other-worldly beauty. I mean to pay this release a high compliment when I note that some of this music recalls the most evocative work of Brian Eno, in the way O’Hearn places the instruments in different ambient fields and the way the tunes unfold so naturally and majestically. But far from being just a keyboard/synth workout, this features many other textures, from pulsing basses to electric Hawaiian guitar (recalling Eno’s gorgeous Apollo) to percussion. All in all, it’s a wondrous trip!
— Mix magazine, January 2008
Even the word sounds slow. It sounds cold, imposing, and something so much bigger than we can fully understand.
For over 20 years, instrumentalist Patrick O’Hearn’s music, rooted primarily in keyboards and bass, has created soundscapes with his work. Following his turn as bassist for Missing Persons in the early 1980s, he ventured into a solo career that has shifted from New Age-lite, to dramatic soundtrack, to minimalist ambience.
His latest, the first since 2005’s Slow Time, captures the largess of its title so aptly in noticeably smaller musical bites. Unlike Slow Time, whose songs seemed to meld into a scene, the music in Glaciation creates the scene. It is by far the closest O’Hearn has come to presenting what I would associate with a soundtrack to major motion picture since 1991’s Indigo. Where that earlier work’s songs shaped dramatic images of great mansions and grand conspiracies, Glaciation instantly transports you to a very cold and foreboding place in nature.
Songs are kept short and simple, not entirely abandoning his recent minimalist approach while further emphasizing the soundtrack comparison. Some songs in the past, as was the case with “Music for Three Vibraphones,” on Slow Time, tended to drag out a little longer than they should. Here, every song seems to know when to hold ‘em and when to walk away.
Clearly, O’Hearn’s music is not for every one the same way not everyone will want to listen to an orchestrated soundtrack over one that features today’s pop hits. But, for those who enjoy music that is as much a part of the world around you as the world around you, very few have the talent and ability that Patrick O’Hearn has consistently displayed for two decades.
- John Dunphy, MusicTap 2008