Taken from the album “Cells Remain”, out August 21st via Birdwatcher Records.
To build something from nothing still requires one to, at least subconsciously, bring all the experiences from the past to meet with a soft vision of the future. But the present moment holds structures and impressions that “refrain from any kind of change, bleeding in and out.” These cells that remain are foundations of who we are and have always been. Pat Keen sits with that reality, turns it around in his hands a couple times, and thoughtfully places it where it needs to be.
From Eau Claire, WI and now based in Minneapolis, Pat Keen has lived a few lives as a hired gun in bands such as Guerilla Toss, Ryan Power, Wei Zhongle, Ian Sweet and Humbird after cutting his teeth as a bassist and improviser at New England Conservatory.
Looking back at Pat’s previous releases we feel life experiences unfolding, the coming of age and departure from absolutes. His proclivity for experimentation as a tool to find solid ground is palpable; complex arrangements and nuanced guitar lines frame introspective lyrics that confess inner chaos and self doubt (Leaving, 2015) and, later, a leap of faith (Albatross, 2017 on Ramp Local). His newest iteration is more minimal. A solo guitar, a clarinet and synth pad invite listeners to arrive with the songwriter at a point of clearer perspective. Listeners will find energy here in curious melodies that could only come from truly committing to a weird impulse and seeing it through, believing in it before inviting friends to help set the rest of the song’s puzzle pieces in place.
Cells Remain was recorded in Eau Claire, WI with engineer Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens, Paul Simon). Co-producer/percussionist Shane Leonard (Field Report, Anna Tivel, Mipso), multi-instrumentalist Adelyn Strei (Adelyn Rose, Yohuna, Her Crooked Heart) and contrabass clarinetist John McCowen (Wei Zhongle, Tweakbird) add tasteful momentum with rhythm, woodwind and synth texture. Listening to the record, it’s clear that a well thought-out collaborative arrangement is just as crucial, just as engaging to listen to, as the artist’s solo explorations. That intentional two part process is fundamental to Pat Keen. At first listen it feels like a reckless intake of air rushing up a mountain, throwing off articles of clothing, then standing on top basking in a panoramic view of both the path behind and visions of possibility in the distance; “There is gold in everyone, how we roll around under the sun and every hand is warm sometimes.” As we live and learn, jettison the clutter and hold on to that solid ground, Pat is there reassuring us, “I’m around. Lost and found, I’m around.”