Anthony Pateras - Chromatophore [ Tzadik - 2008]Anthony Pateras’s Chromatophore comes waving all kinds of good pedigrees. The disc itself comes courtesy of John Zorn’s excellent Tzadik label; the composer himself has all kinds of accolades and credits to show off on the inner sleeve. It’s a shame the music itself isn’t more compelling, which forces me to say this sort of disc will appeal to two kinds of people: existing fans of Mr. Pateras, and folks who feel Jocelyn Pook is too melodic.
The disc sports several compositions from the last several years, which veer between purely rhythmic workouts (no concessions to anything like melody at all) and Ligeti-like cascading sheets of sound. The one thing that’s most consistent is the way Pateras likes to exploit just about every instrument for its percussive capacity. Strings are plucked or hammered whenever they can be, and the track “When Objects Dream” centers around a workout on John Cage’s old standby, the prepared piano.
It’s all interesting, in the way that abstract paintings by folks you never heard of are interesting. The music maintains your attention for a little bit, and then after a while you realize there’s not really much beyond a few basic motifs or conceits repeated to little advantage. The final track, “Autophagy”, has a lot going for it—there’s some nice interplay between orchestra and electronics—but like most everything else on the record it doesn’t really lend itself to replay value unless you already harbor a fascinating for such things. One track of pure electronics, “JWT”, sounds like what happened when my old amplifier used to go on the fritz.
I’m still curious to see what else Pateras does, though, such as other work for film he might do. The liner notes mention he has some scores to his credit, including portions of … um, the nasty Aussie slasher flick Wolf Creek. Not sure I’d leave that one on my resume, personally.Serdar Yegulalp