Wendel Patrick Releases New Album
Written by Barrett King
To rather quiet fanfare, Wendel Patrick released his second LP, Forthcoming, on May 1.
It's been four years since the soundsmith released his first album, Sound:, and started touring the globe on its back. Seeing the world outside the walls of Baltimore is nothing new for Patrick, who spent his formative years in Venezuela and Jamaica, learning piano before playing in reggae bands.
Forthcoming is a step towards the Vibe/XXL crowd, while Sound: was perhaps more in tune with the ears of Urb's readership. Wendel Patrick has long collaborated with Baltimore rappers Saleem (Saleem & The Music Lovers) and Eze Jackson (Soul Cannon), featuring the former on his debut LP and both on the current record. On this album, Wendel Patrick not only features other rappers, but spends plenty of time on the mic himself. This time around, it is as if Terminator X has left the wheels to stand with the MCs he created the track for, going rhyme for rhyme.
Known well for his sparse use of samples, eschewing found loops and hooks for playing his own instruments, Wendel Patrick outdoes himself by using absolutely zero samples on this new record. Nowhere on Forthcoming does this amazing feat show itself more obviously on first listen than on "Ten Gs (Reprise)", where the MC delivers the beat with none other than (and nothing else but) the beatbox. Throughout, the second effort from Wendel Patrick has much more of a hip hop presence than Sound:. "The Cypher", featuring the aforementioned Saleem and Eze Jackson as well as Topix, jumps out of the gate with Charlie Brown piano bars before spinning off into something that jacks the KRS/Rakim cut "Classic" right out of its Air Force Ones. (I can't take credit for thinking about "Classic", Jackson says it himself on the song. I'm just telling you that "The Cypher" follows through.)
Don't think for a second that Wendel Patrick is only noticed by a small section of the hip hop world. Ursula Rucker (The Roots, Josh Wink) noticed, and she lays it down on "I'm Just Sayin'", spitting bars full of the schoolyard braggadocio and exultations of confidence one would expect from Jadakiss when forcing himself into your 'top five, dead or alive' countdown, only Rucker's are flecked with her strong spoken word technique. As the cut fades out, she even asks the producer "Is that OK? Did I do all right?", conveying her confidence while showing a slight bit of humility which characterizes Forthcoming perfectly. Wendel Patrick knows his skills well enough to break down walls between hip hop, jazz, and electronic music. His musical output demonstrates a love for his listener, the carefully constructed layers of sound as architecturally unique as the city of Baltimore itself. It might not hit you on your first tour through town, but let a local show you around (whether the city or Wendel Patrick's music), and you cannot help but be amazed.
"Sound:" Review from RE:UP Magazine by Beau Lamontagne
September 2007 issue
Wendel Patrick - Sound:
Stinking Toe Tree Records
Wendel Patrick died a week after he was born a month premature back in 1973. So how does he have a full-length album released in 2007? Wendel Patrick is the righteous alias of Kevin Gift, Wendel's twin brother who survived the childbirth - not a bad way to pay homage to the departed.
Gift is a classically trained pianist who grew up in Venezuela and Jamaica, where he played in reggae bands with his other siblings. Now residing in Baltimore, Gift has produced Sound:, which has nary a trace of obvious piano licks nor island vibes, it's pure beat-ridden downtempo and hip-hop with sprinkles of drum and bass throughout. Gift's strong musical background makes for a great safety net to support his experiments in rhythmic sounds and time signature (for most producers in these genres it's usually the other way around). "Stonesthrow" (clever song title) weaves in and out of skippity drum and bass and classic Shadow breaks, playfully fooling your ears when the song slips into double-time. While not shy with the two-step beat, most of the drum and bass found on Sound: is of the delicate nature - like Squarepusher when he's nice or LTJ when he's not hoarding every ambient sound possible.
Like any proper "producer" today, Gift puts lyrics over a handful of his beats, enlisting MCs Salim (also representing B-more) and Napoleon Solo to spit on two songs each. The most original of these vocal tracks is "My CD Has a Scratch II," where Salim's flow - sounding like a mellow Ghostface - is amusingly interrupted by the stuttering bas kicks and hi-hats with a tease of tasteful jazz chords that make it more than just a skit interlude. "Mass Media II" has a nice guitar hook and the drum-set break sits in the pocket while Salim rolls along effortlessly, calling out the forced franticness of nightly news broadcasts.
According to Gift, the record is essentially sample-free, yet he segments his own sounds using the same blueprint of a break-oriented song. This makes Gift's meanderings sound not like a novice noodling around in the studio, but like a perfectly placed sample from a dusty record of old. Sound: just gets better and better upon each listen and it's easy to tell that Gift is no one trick pony. Keep your eyes and ears on this one.
"Sound:" Review from URB Magazine by Cherri Moon
Wendel Patrick :: Sound:
Stinking Toe Tree
Reviewed on Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Patrick was born to a Trinidadan father and a Jamaican mother and, by the tender age of four, was taking piano lessons in his family’s new country, Venezuela. This global influence may not be an audibly prominent force in his music, but it’s certainly an undercurrent. So is the memory of his twin brother, who did not survive their premature delivery, and whose name Patrick uses as a music maker and artist. Sound: is an atmospheric album akin to skipping stones or a pebble being dropped in a river with circles that reverberate from the impact. It’s not heavy, but it is deep, often reminding the listener of that haunting, dusty DJ Shadow sound of abandoned houses and attics filled with old belongings and memories before a bright new day emerges through a newly opened window. A perfect, effusive and certainly trippy record to spin on a Sunday afternoon. Four stars.
Wendel Patrick added to URB Magazine's Next 1000.
Wendel Patrick :: My CD Has a Scratch
Stinking Toe Tree Records
Reviewed by Elisa Padilla
There's many producers that make hip-hop beats without using samples, but Wendel Patrick (aka Kevin Gift) brings class to the game, and part of that is due to the jazzy-electronic elements he incorporates into his music. Born in DC into a musical family, WP began playing piano while living in Venezuela at the age of four, but has been making music under his alias for the last six years or so. Be sure to check out his album, Sound: which even earned a four star review in URB.
"Sound:" Review from Any Given Tuesday by Barrett King
Monday, July 16, 2007
Album Review: Wendel Patrick - Sound:
Bridging the divide between hip hop, electronic, and jazz is Wendel Patrick's Sound:. The circuit-bending beginning of "Mazinger" stands in stark contrast to the ethereal piano that follows, a trick also well employed on "Man Vs.", where the piano reverses into a traveling beat of drums and tablas, complete with old-school hip hop hi-hat/tympani break before the crescendo.
Sound: is a challenging trip through experimentation with multiple genres and sounds, many of which you will have a hard time identifying but have a great time trying. The funk bass on "Bass Trip" is a slam dunk compared to the near-digeridoo hook of "Mass Media", which loops over an amalgam of voice clips culled from the mass media. And whether the listener comes looking for the electronica sound in "Thirteen Years", the jazz band in a box on "Planet Planetarium" or the hip hop tempo of the intro to "Stonezthrow", tastes will be challenged and genres bended as heads nod and bodies move to all of the above.
On "Rest Move", Wendel introduces the guitar underneath a rap track courtesy of Napoleon Solo. The contribution of Napoleon Solo bleeds into the next track, "....", scratching its way through a symphony sound piece. This collaboration is the first indication that Wendel Patrick is not satisfied with simply tracking beats on drum machines and sampling obvious 80s hits. The boom-bap of the drum machine comes through (along with the shakers) on "My CD Has A Scratch", with an epileptic blip that, when Salim comes in on "My CD Has A Scratch II", presents a challenge for the Baltimore MC (read a review of Salim's album Hip Hop Revisited here). If you haven't already, you must hear the collabo between Wendel Patrick and Salim on "Mass Media II" where Salim delivers a two-minute anecdote on being ruined by the media.
Wendel Patrick's Sound: is great for hip hop heads, techno kids, and audiophiles of all sorts. Something for everyone with twists and turns that urge the listener to branch out.
Wendel Patrick is a hip-hop producer that could easily make any fan of Squarepusher, Boards of Canada, or Madlib flip out. Composing all of his beatscapes without the use of samples, this multi-instrumentalist travels through jazz territory populated with plenty of live guitar scales, acoustic (at times glitchy) percussion, and even a little funk bass. For those who still listen to Blowout Comb, take extreme note.
"Sound:" Review from XLR8R Magazine by Derek Beres
Stinking Toe Tree/US/CD
Fusing a jazz history in piano with a passion for hip-hop, digital texturing classes in college, and an early (eleven years old early) stint in a Jamaican reggae band, Kevin Gift created Wendel Patrick to give shape and form to this lifelong collection of song forms. Sound: is cinematic in many ways, from the meandering and accentuated synthesizer effects to deep, well-formed bass and occasional breaks. Most impressive is when he sits back on a solid groove, like the slightly dark ³Rest. Move.,² as emcee Napoleon Solo drops his own science. That last word is a fitting summation for Gift: precise, effective and well thought out, with plenty of soul to round out any overly heady dynamics.