REVIEW: Those Who Walk Away – “The Infected Mass”

Talk about a great idea for a ambient recording – just not quite fully realized.

Those Who Walk Away’s debut, The Infected Mass, available now on Constellation, is the product of Winnipeg-based composer Matthew Patton. On the record, Patton, who lost his brother in a plane crash, seeks to compose a high-art brand of minimalist sacral music to remember and eulogize; think a haunted, ghostly requiem sliced together with cockpit voice recordings of distressed pilots. The concept is enthralling but, through and through, a little less than fully cooked.

The self-posited hymns and “partially recollected conversations,” co-produced in Reykjavik and Winnipeg, fail to rise much beyond smoke-thin drones and the occasional – and sadly underutilized – strings don’t lead listeners too much in the way of conclusions. It’s sad to hear – and not for the right reasons.

There’s a kind of somber palette to The Infected Mass, rightly so, but little in the way of commentary or emotional heft, which is distracting, especially given its origins. Patton’s music clearly has room for pronouncements. It’s just not happening here.

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