Patrick Grant has both experience and critics on his side. A professor at NYU Film School and a practiced composer for stage and screen, this musician has turned heads with his ability to mingle rock elements with classical compositions. As I listened to A Sequence of Waves — which is subtitled “(twelve stories and a dream)” — I wondered what my role should be in writing about music that so firmly speaks for itself, except to ask anyone hesitant about instrumental compositions to just listen.
If you’re still reading this, allow me to explain why this album should be required listening. Right off the bat, “Lucid Intervals” is a show-stealing breath-stopping testament to the way various instruments can interact with each other. The melodies are gorgeous and complex, and you can’t help but imagine a hundred filmic scenes that could accompany the track. As with “To Find a Form that Accommodates the Mess”, this album is at its best when it plays with depth of layers.
The next important note about Patrick Grant is his ability to take sounds that already exist, and bend them to compliment both his message and his melodic sensibility. “Seven Years at Sea” uses a sound clip from “A Treasury of Library of Congress Field Recordings” that is part of the public domain, then creates from it a distant melody that evokes a gentle sunshine. “One Note Samba” also uses sound samples, and Grant weaves dial tones together to make melody in a skillful take on modern communication, then accentuates it with the backing up of a truck playing a rhythmic role, while the sound of muted conversation hums through.
Apart from the album title and subtitle, many of the tracks have simple names that are somehow reflected in the sounds. “Alcohol” mixes a dreamlike atmosphere with saloon-type melodies, and wavers between celebratory and ominous — an apt interpretation of its name. “Firearms” is anxious and chaotic and certainly embraces the contemporary rock notes that Grant dips into.
On a larger scale, Patrick Grant strikes with his ability to work in many musical mediums. The use of strings and orchestral movements is one mountain, evoking classical rock with guitar playfulness (“Prelude I”) is another, and an almost prog-rock affinity for electronic future-melodies (“Driving Patterns”, “Lonely Ride Coney Island”) is yet another. A Sequence of Waves is a restless album that will keep you hooked, wondering how one artist can wear so many masks and retain his own sense of style.