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Project:Patchwork: Ultima Ratio

Initially revolving around multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Gerd Albers, Project Patchwork now release their third outing, Ultima Ratio. The concept behind the album centres on the year 2020, with the global pandemic surrounding us and obsessing our every moment. However, the intention here isn’t to relive that time but to shine a light on the solutions that were brought into force and the impacts, both personal and social, that they created.

Musically, P:P straddle styles, with a largely symphonic prog approach often interjected with a more metallic side and some neo-prog flair. Those who are providing this musical framework make for an impressive and lengthy cast list, with Lars Köhler, Arno Menses, Miriam Kraft, Olaf Kobbe, Anne Trautmann and Jean Pageau all stepping into and out of the vocal spotlight, while the latter also adds some flute. Not content with that, Matthias Bangert plays bass, Johannes Pott drums, with Marek Arnold (Toxic Smile), Daniel Eggenberger and Volker Wichmann adding keyboards, while Ben Azar, Martin Schnella and Marco Wriedt are all credited with providing guest lead guitar work.

So, there’s no questioning the talent on display and through the wide ranging “Weeks Of Sorrow” and broodingly heavy “Dead-End Street”, Albers most certainly does not waste what’s at his disposal. That said, and maybe this was inevitable given the subject matter, the overall mood and tone right across this album remains full of melancholy and angst, and I can’t pretend that more relief from that atmosphere wouldn’t have been welcome. For me, the message is also way too literal, and while I suppose it’s only right to take into account that Albers feels this message is important, there’s no mystery here and nothing for you to unravel, with the central intention recounted exactly as a story questioning the actions we were asked to undertake during the pandemic. In intention it’s arguably a laudable endeavour, but as an entertaining listen, for me, lyrically this falls some way short.

There’s a lot to like here, with some thought provoking ideas undoubtedly explored and some impressive music on display, but when it's all brought together, there’s little here that really sticks in the memory, or draws you back for more. If, however, you are looking for an album to question the events of the early 2020s in a wide ranging progressive style, then there’s no doubt that’s exactly what this is.

Track Listing
1. Ultima Ratio (Pt. I) Prologue 

2. New Normality 

3. Weeks of Sorrow 

4. Code Red 

5. Hope 

6. Dead-end Street 

7. Depressed Sentiments

8. Keepers of the Fire 

9. Ultima Ratio (Pt. II) Epilogue

Added: May 21st 2022
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Project Patchwork online
Hits: 605
Language: english

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