Review Summary: Consistently crushing and dark, Hidden Scenes explores the boundaries of ambient and drone not often traveled anymore.
It's pretty evident that Sundrugs (formerly Patryk_t), a 28 year old from Warsaw, Poland, embraces the concept that it takes a certain patience to listen to drone and ambient music. The experience is based on several things, a few you can't control, and some you can. The length of the album, the presentation and flow, how you approach your listening technique, and even the mood you have before you even hit the play button all have lasting effects. The ambient and drone genres are two of the most polarizing in the musical industry. Simply put, it's just not for everyone, and that's extremely evident even with recent albums such as Tim Hecker's Ravedeath, 1972
or Stars of the Lid's And Their Refinement Of The Decline
being highly regarded and loved by some and hated by others. While it may all seem very intimidating to have the style of work you try to make a living off of be so highly criticized, misjudged or even misunderstood over the past decade, Patryk does not succumb to such pressures; he thrives over them.
With a few promising albums and EP's under his former monicker, turning a new leaf and 'starting over' could seem like a daunting task. Yet an artist that knows how to manipulate music into feeling shorter and faster than it actually is, is going to be seen as a success, especially on an ambient/drone album spanning over 50 minutes. There’s something rather breathtaking about thick, deep and enveloping layers of drone and ambient soundscapes sucking you in and leaving you stunned, wondering where your 50 minutes had gone and to have it seem so effortless in the end. It's recognizable from the title of the first song “Pandora's Box” and within the first two minutes of the second song “Moving Borders”, that there are going to be multiple moving parts, textures and layers to this album that could take several listens to fully discover and hear, and that Hidden Scenes
is going open up into something truly spectacular, much like the titles allude to. From the haunting voices calling for help on “Radio Depth”, to the eerie and sinister nature of the collaboration track “If You Call That Living”, with noted drone artist Saåad, it's easy to tell there is some kind of hidden, deep sadness running through this mans mind that had to be let go at some point in his career.
He describes this album as “a night journey through a forest of experiences, towards a pale dawn which brings relief. This is a collection of hidden scenes from our life, where every song tells a different story.” What are these secrets locked away, hidden in the deep forest of his mind, that take Patryk on a journey that is filled with images of both beauty and horror? Listening to this for the first time, there was a shroud of mystery surrounding it, like a bottomless, abyssal ocean, that left me wanting to know more. With an opportunity to ask him a couple of questions, he explained to me in great detail his approach and influence for the album that took eight long months to record. “I needed to put somewhere whole, the sick emotions oscillating around me, to put somewhere the pain, helplessness, and some kind of isolation with my problem.” The meaning to several of these tracks are understandably quite personal for him. Turning these words and thoughts into sounds, or vice versa, can be such a difficult process for a musician. Yet over the course of the albums birth, it's clear that he not only tries to shed those inner demons that influenced the project in the first place, but also mentions finding hope that many in the same position look for, in the centerpiece of the album, “You Know That Place”.
While the story unfolds track to track, starting with the obvious dark, troubling atmospheric vibes of “Void's Anatomy” and working its way towards a more relaxing, ethereal and warm state of mind on “Warm Like December's Sun”, the album, much like the man himself, comes full circle. The thicker layers of drone begin to strip away and are replaced with pure ambient bliss. The album is very fluid and balanced and is not really dominated by any one aspect. The grainy synthesizer, the electronic textures and the heavy walls of noise all come together perfectly. This is what headphone music is all about. Even if you don't know the back story of the man himself, it's easy to notice even after one spin of Hidden Scenes
, that full heart was put into this release that make it feel both incredibly genuine and surprisingly disturbing. What's great is that it's so open to interpretation, and it's very easy to dismiss the flaws and focus on the rich environment the album produces.
It's a hell of a thing to watch an artist you have known for a while come into their full potential. There's a new side, depth and attitude to Patryk that had not been seen before on previous works. What's changed is the ability leave behind the burdening emotions that come with life. Leaving it all on this album, I feel Hidden Scenes
is going to the the defining moment in his career. A truly honest, sincere and unsettling album, one that's sure to leave a lasting mark on the genre for several years to come.