Composer and writer Patrick Ames continues to evolve his lyrically potent signature cocktail of junkyard blues on the new LP, “The Virtualistics.” due for release June 16th. The album contains 8 songs written during the pandemic by the Napa Valley-based artist, each one hopeful and resilient in its own distinct way. The album title was inspired by the nature of the recording style; although Patrick Ames writes the music and lyrics, much of his collaborations with producer Jon Ireson and backup singers Chana Matthews and Mikaela Matthews, have been virtual.
From the pandemic-inspired post-punk of “Second Wave” and “Essential Workers” to the funked up gospel rock of “Help People Up” and “Reawakened 2020” to the spacious, philosophical “Great Bunch of Molecules” and the bluesy, fun energy of “Rubber and Glue”, “Songwriter’s Block” and “You Make Me Scream”, Patrick Ames and The Virtualistics display a tenacious spirit throughout.
Patrick shares regarding “The Virtualistics”:
The Virtualistics. The band that never met. Remote collaboration is common but we never met during a difficult pandemic year. The four of us never practiced together. We didn’t sing together nor did we pre-plan the final sound. We were virtual entities, duly recording our tracks on various home devices and sending them in for assembly. Those famous photographs of The Virtualistics, studious musicians playing on stage, hard working in the studio, those tired looks of a fifth take, none of that happened. We never sang or played together.
Amazingly, it sounds like we were together, un-virutally, I guess is the word. It sounds like a 9-piece band that is funkin’ up the place even though we were half-depressed and struggled with work, virus, and bad politics. Half of the songs were released as singles mostly because I didn’t want to be depressed and fed upon that new release excitement every few months.
It’s been a year of virtual studio sessions that require large leaps of faith when you’re contributing to a song that isn’t finished yet and sounded like a sketch. It’s like that group game where everyone adds one line to the preexisting story going around in a circle and by the time everyone speaks the story is unbelieveably creative and interesting. Start with a few lyrics, add a riff or two, start weaving in counter melodies, add some phat beats – each song went around the Virtualistics circle a few times.
Jon Ireson, Producer, says: Patrick Ames and the Virtualistics
I mixed Patrick’s last album (Liveness) at the beginning of 2020 and by May he had more new material ready to be molded. Although the lyrical themes all come from Patrick, it definitely helps that we are on the same page politically/philosophically. As the tumultuous events of 2020 unfolded, the songs he was sending me about racial and social justice, trust in science, and the hard work of affecting positive transformation in the public square were echoing my own thoughts in real time. When the world goes haywire, music is there to make sense of it. Enjoy!
Album opener and lead single “Help People Up” also has an official music video which was created by Blue Cafe Music.
Ames started writing songs in 1968 when he was 14 years old. He inherited a guitar and dozens of classic albums from his older brothers who went off to college. An avid songwriter and performer during his own college tenure, he went into book publishing after attempting the music circuit in 1976. It would be 25 years before he would play seriously again. “I bought my son a cheap Fender and amp. He didn’t like it. I loved it. I cranked it up and played with abandon. And then it all came back, in spades.”
Much of Ames’s professional life has been in technical book publishing, which for him carries several parallels to what he’s doing now. Now, in his early 60’s, Ames has returned to songwriting armed with decades of word-smithing, book publishing, and decades of practice. Through a series of experimental EP and LP releases, including “Four Faces,” “Like Family,” “Affettuosos,” “Standard Candles,” and “All I Do Is Bleed,” he has established his personal signature with a gravelly, heart-on-the-sleeve voice box and carefully considered lyrics. Critics are sitting up.