PAT!i – Sahara شع ةينامثو ةئام

The multi-faceted PAT!i is a mystery. The faceless musician, said to have worked within various genres ranging from hardcore to hip hop, brings a variety of sounds to ‘Sahara شع ةينامثو ةئام’. Although not a true smorgasbord of his talents, the music he presents on the album is never dull. It takes in various different influences, always suggesting the work of a man who isn’t short of ideas.

Of immediate interest, ‘Death Anxiety’ opens with a quiet melody that hints at world music, before dropping into a chunky riff that manages to marry heavy funk metal with a swathe of prog metal choppiness. Over the frenetic rhythm, PAT!i adds an unexpectedly melodic vocal where he settles on longer notes more of an indie rock/melodic rock persuasion, with occasional phrasing borrowed from contemporary pop, before stretching into even bigger melodies for a chorus where harmony vocals lend more of a classic melodic rock tone. Finding time for a slow section to facilitate an almost bluesy lead guitar break, and adding a few more scattershot backing vocals, these three minutes are surprisingly full in terms of ideas. The rocky ‘Torture’ expands on similar musical ideas, but manages to sound a little different thanks to a heavily filtered lead guitar which drops into some strong Arabic melodies on occasion. He also apples a mechanised rhythm which takes the arrangement slightly closer to light industrial, whilst a repetitive hook draws from a seventies influence without ever resorting to a seventies sound. It should be a mess, but it’s to this mystery man’s credit that he’s managed to throw everything together and create something that never sounds thrown together, if that makes sense.

‘Wrong Soil’ takes the chopping guitar motifs once more and adds a faint air of nu metal, before twisting into an aggressive vocal hook that adds an almost avant garde element. That, for most musicians would be the basis for a complete track, but for PAT!i, it’s just the beginning. Elsewhere in the same number, he adds more layered vocals, a mechanical rhythm, a few guitar tones that draw from desert rock sources, and even finds time for a big chorus blending elements of old style AOR and 90s rock. Despite the chaotic approach, this is a track that’s big on melodies, and in many ways, it’s the best example of the “rock side” of PAT!i’s work. Moving further towards industrial, ‘NumbDance’ opens with a riff that sounds like classic Ministry stripped back to suit a hard rock band. That gives the track a brilliant musical hook when showcasing a fat guitar tone. Lyrically, however, the track gains a greater importance by addressing themes of self-harm, the pointed end of which, feels like a perfect marriage with the spikier riffs. Despite the socially conscious lyric, it never feels preachy or judgemental, and the way PAT!i returns once again to a layered, melodic vocal for part of the track gives it a strong link with ‘Wrong Soil’.

Moving away from the more obvious rock influences, ‘Failure’ is a very strong semi-acoustic workout where a classic finger picked melody enables a vocal that has a hint of emo. PAT!’s fragile voice is immediately striking as he shares pointed phrases about a broken relationship, but its actually the twin guitars that steal the show. One has a thin sound; the other a slightly deeper tone. When heard in tandem, they find a strange place somewhere between the sounds of ‘Jar of Flies’ era Alice In Chains and the Mike Oldfield inspired demo sketches by Vincent Carr’s SUMIC. The semi acoustic approach also creates some great Arabic influenced post-grunge on the first half of ‘Naya’, a track where PAT!i actually concedes to sharing something a little more natural, and the mix of melodic alt-rock and emotive vocal really suits the melody in hand. Even when this track resorts to something a touch heavier, the use of melodic vocal harmonies sells a great arrangement, and in some ways, would provide a great first listen, despite being nestled at the end of the album.

Elsewhere, ‘اليوم’ breaks the mood with an electronic drone and sampled voices, and ‘Someone Else’ takes the harmony vocal style of the rocky tracks and places them against a pulsing EDM backdrop, giving the lead vocal little to hide behind. Moments where lead guitar creeps in lends a more accessible edge for those who enjoyed the rock tracks, and the song boasts a very melodic chorus, even though it feels a long time coming. For the more patient listener, the second half of the track actually features some guitar work that crosses boundaries between prog and djent, but overall, this feels a little forced in terms of trying to be different.

This album is a mixed bag and, as such, doesn’t always work. The programmed drum sounds sometimes cheapen the end result and some of the other DIY production values don’t afford some good material the best send off. However, on the plus side, ‘Sahara شع ةينامثو ةئام has a lot of spirit and is the kind of record that can be cherry picked for maximum enjoyment. For the more adventurous ear, it’s certainly an interesting curio, even if it doesn’t necessarily feel like the kind of record destined for long term enjoyment.

February 2024