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Patrick Park | Under the Unminding Skies (Badman)
It's not entirely unfitting to bring up Kevin Tihista when talking about newcomer Patrick Park, but 'Under the Unminding Skies' is a far more minimalist endeavour than 'Don't Breathe a Word' or 'Judo'. There is little of Tihista's enticing but often too saccharine sentimentality to be found on this six-track EP, his first official release, and former punk rocker Park presents a more unsettling view of the world. Past support gigs with Beth Orton and Richard Buckner should give some indication of both lyrical and musical territories, but Park keeps his eyes eagerly gazing towards early 1970s classic pop as well. A fabulous version of Colin Blunstone's Caroline Goodbye popping up alongside the Carter Family's Will the Circle Be Unbroken perfectly encapsulates his musical scope and breadth, Park's weary-eyed melancholic pop shrouded in ragged folk. The overtly minimal approach makes this seem like not much more than unfinished demos with the songs whispering of unrealised potential. The couple of tracks including guest performances indicate the full strength of his act, and this fuller approach is sorely missed on the remaining songs on here. But Park has enough tales to tell, a knack for writing fantastic melodies, and a voice to remind you of the struggling glory of an Elliott Smith (who's influence is at times a little too firmly felt). As a first EP this is a remarkable effort. His upcoming album is long overdue and, based on this release, should be well worth the wait.

Stein Haukland
CWAS #12 - Summer 2003