Once in a while, a musician will deviate from the style they’re known for and go in a completely different direction. They enter this abstract realm where there’s no rules and they create something that isn’t bound to any sort of structure.
Warwick resident Patrick Boutwell did this recently with his “Morning Pages” EP, which came out March 20. Folks around Rhode Island might know him from the Providence indie rock act The Brother Kite, but this release is different from what he’s done with that band. This record consists of only two tracks, but both are more than 20 minutes long.
Boutwell embraces atmospheric ambience in the EP, with there being a continuous presence of droning chords and drawn-out sounds that never seem to end. There’s also a hypnotic quality present as well – it’s ideal listening material for when you’re trying to meditate, relax or get some sleep.
‘The record kind of came together by accident,” he said about the making of the record. “I had begun to improvise textural guitar soundscapes every morning as a way to just create music every day and didn’t have any kind of plan for them. I actually hadn’t even bothered to record them initially because I hadn’t intended for them to be for anyone but myself, but after some encouragement from my MonoDrone Orchestra bandmates Brian Williams and DJ Potter, I started to do so, and quickly amassed somewhere around 16 hours of music.”
He added: “I named it ‘Morning Pages’ after the exercise of the same name found in the book ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron. In short, you wake up in the morning and immediately write 10 pages, stream-of-consciousness, to clear your head. I hadn’t thought that what I was doing was in any way related, but after a while I realized that was exactly what I was doing, just with music rather than words.”
Due to the lack of vocals and the length of both the title track and “Christmas Eve,” instant comparisons to Lou Reed’s 1975 noise record “Metal Machine Music” come to mind. Rather than sheer noise and abrasive distortion, Boutwell goes more toward fluid feedback and wafting tones. The production quality is also very immersive. It’s very easy to get lost in the numerous sounds taking place while listening. Sometimes experimenting with music can go off the rails, leaving people lost and confused. This record does experiment, but it maintains a certain amount of substance that prevents it from veering from its original purpose.
Stream Boutwell’s “Morning Pages” EP by logging on his Bandcamp page at patrickboutwell.bandcamp.com. It’s bound to give the mind and senses a departure from the current COVID-19 crisis that we’re all dealing with.