Patient Sounds ~ STILL, waiting

“We’re still waiting, we’re still waiting, we’re still waiting, we’re still waiting …” This children’s chant launches the amusing new mixtape from Patient Sounds.  “We’re waiting for everything,” they sing as a music box chimes over their boredom.  We’ve all been there.  Even if we’re too old to whine out loud, we’re still doing it inwardly.

Just look at that cover.  That was me last week in the auto repair shop.  But it might have been you at the doctor’s office, at the deli, or even at home, waiting for a page to load, a plumber to arrive, the power to come back on.  As Tom Petty sings, “The waiting is the hardest part.”  This collage was “specifically engineered to accompany & enrich indeterminate waiting.”  And it certainly makes the time go faster.  Dozens of artists appear, representing the Patient Sounds roster and more:  Naps, M. Sage, Lake Mary, Hakobune, Francesco Covarino and more.  There’s a chart to tell them apart, which helps a lot when the turnover is approximately one artist each minute.  The timbres range from ambient to drone, with numerous electronic textures folded in; but the draw is the variety of samples: plates and dishes, the morning commuter train, a crying baby.  We feel your pain.

There’s another kind of pain here as well:  the pain of saying goodbye.  This is the last Patient Sounds sampler.  At the end of their tenth anniversary, the label will be closing its doors.  Over the past decade, they’ve treated us to amazing albums from artists including Cinchel, Petrels, Glassine and Ian William Craig, to name a few.  It’s been a great ride.  But it’s also been a tough time for the industry, especially when it comes to cassettes, which produce a sense of nostalgia that is unfortunately greater than its overall sales.  This bittersweet disc ~ the final sampler before a closing trio of tapes ~ is the epitome of patience, confronted by its opposite.  If anything, Patient Sounds taught us to listen slowly, and now the Chicago label will practice what it has preached by riding slowly into the sunset.

We love the trombone in the 18th minute, followed by the field recordings and mournful strings of the 20th.  A Mukqs track folds into a cappella singing from Warm Anna.  We’re reminded of “Casey at the Bat.”  Birds are squaring.  Children are playing.  But in Chicago, the curtains are being taken down.  The office is being scrubbed, the last acoustic troubadour playing in the hallway.  What begins as amusement ends as elegy.  For all the talk about waiting, the time has gone too fast.

M. Sage writes, “As it is August, we are entering in the last days of our last summer as a label, and the first days of our last autumn.  So many firsts and lasts here at the end of our run.  Every thing feels momentous, like every grain of sand is a gold brick.”  Want to say farewell, thank you, best wishes?  There’s a concert tonight if you’re in town (where you can score a free CD!) and lots of tapes in the warehouse waiting like wide-eyed animals for someone to take them home.  (Richard Allen)

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