Review: The Psychogeographical Commission – Patient Zero

“We set about creating music which blurs the line between the real and imagined landscapes in order to allow individuals to revaluate their own mythologies and provide new ideas to bring them closer to harmony with their urban surroundings.”

This is the Psychogeographical Commission. Whilst this may appear to be an over-elaborate concept for a music project, there’s no denying that Patient Zero fits this description quite aptly. There’s a homely familiarity within the cosy loops of melody, and the lyrics that touch of the clichéd and mindless activities of day-to-day, the field recordings of traffic – but the album digs within the mind and beyond the heavens, with whirr of electronics and cavernous soundscapes taking Patient Zero beyond the shallow surface of reality into both spiritual and astrological territory.

But regardless of whether you’re familiar with the concept prior to listening, the album still follows an unpredictable narrative. Streams of gloomy, prophesising folk melt into dark ambient passages and then on into the cold throb of electronic beats, and the Commission sound effortless in shifting between them. It’s well gauged, so that the album’s melodic elements linger long enough to sink in, but give way before the listener feels too comfortable and in control.

However, Patient Zero often feels as though it has so many places to show you, but lacks the self-belief to really take you there. In particular, the vocal delivery can occasionally sound half-hearted and lacking in assertion; I have no doubt that the Commission have absolute faith in their project, but sometimes the music carries an uncertainty which causes potentially captivating moments to fall feeble and flat.

So Patient Zero isn’t as immersive as it could have been. Structurally, there’s much to be admired – the band masterfully dip between an eclectic set of atmospheres without ever taking a wayward or alienating step – but without the sense of conviction required to transform it into a wholly compelling journey, the album is unable to really lure you in.