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Patch biography
PATCH is a studio-assembled ensemble of musicians from diverse fields - rock, prog/psych rock, jazz, folk and classical - put together by renowned Australian (New Zealand born) producer Peter Dawkins for a 'one-off' project, the instrumental concept album "The Star Suite".

Dawkins (who is not credited as a musician on the PATCH project) enlisted as key collaborators, and co-composers of the work, guitarist Mike Rudd (SPECTRUM and ARIEL) and folk singer/guitarist Mike McClellan. And rounding out the line-up credited as PATCH are notable session musicians in Doug Gallacher on drums, Tony Esterman on keyboards and Rod Coe on bass.

Support musicians for the project included prodigious guitarist Tim Gaze (TAMAM SHUD, KAHVAS JUTE and ARIEL), long-time Rudd associate Bill Putt (SPECTRUM and ARIEL) on bass, along with Sydney Symphony Orchestra cellist Nathan Waks firing up the electric cello, and rock 'n' roll journeyman Mike Perjanik behind the ARP synthesizer. Other artists are Tony Ansell on organ, percussionist Ian Bloxham, Doug Fosket on saxophone, and jazz outfit THE BENNELONG TRIO (Peter Draper, guitar; Brian Strong, cello; Nick Negerovich, flute).

The sole reason for the formation of PATCH was the 1973 album "The Star Suite", an interpretation of astrological themes of the four elements of the Zodiac - Air, Fire, Water and Earth - and how the signs of the Zodiac interact with these most basic of elements. "The Star Suite" consists of four lengthy tracks, one for each of the elements; the track for each of the elements is further divided into three parts: the interactions with one of each of the cardinal signs, the fixed signs and the mutable signs of the Zodiac. The music is at times ethereal & spacey, while at other times there are elements of fusion, psychedelic rock and symphonic rock . an eclectic mix of musical styles from a band with members from many musical spheres.

"The Star Suite" is an excellent concept album, with PATCH being a recommended "studio band" that showcases some of the luminaries of the early 70's Australian progressive rock scene. The challenge to prog heads is finding a copy of this rare offering.

written by T.Rox (Coops)

Why this artist must be listed in :
A little known progressive outfit from Australia formed simply to create its legacy in the form of a single concept album. (PATCH also gets a mention in Ronald Couture'...
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2.43 | 13 ratings
The Star Suite

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PATCH Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Star Suite by PATCH album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.43 | 13 ratings

The Star Suite
Patch Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars The idea of this Aussie project, based in Melbourne, was conceived by producer Peter Dawkins, who gathered a line-up of rock veterans and session musicians to play music inspired by the four elements of the Zodiac:Spectrum and Ariel's Mike Rudd on guitars, keyboardist Tony Esterman, New Zealander Rod Coe on bass, Folk singer Mike McClellan on acoustic guitar and drummer Doug Gallacher, later of Madden & Harris.They were supported by a number of guests, like percussionist Ian Bloxsom from Crossfire, Tony Ansell on organ, bassist Bill Putt, also of Spectrum and Ariel, cellist Nathan Waks, Ariel's and Taman Shud's guitarist Tim Gaze and saxophonist Doug Foskett.''The star suite'' came out in 1973 on Harvest.

Four long, instrumental tracks with a gentle atmosphere was what Patch had created and the opening ''Air'' sounds pretty promising, despite its soft and elaborate atmosphere, it sounds like the instrumental efforts of GOLDON GILTRAP, featuring a heavy acoustic content next to some jazzy keyboards and mellow electric guitars and swirling around orchestral, Fusion and light, psychedelic overtones.I am afraid that the next three pieces ar not that good, even if the extended running times give promise for some charming musicianship.''Fire'' holds a very long Classical-drenched harpsichord theme, which is hardly memorable, then the music sinks into a mellow Fusion style with decent organ and electric piano, before evolving into somekind of electric Folk Rock.Not the most coherent effort of the world.''Water'' is without question the jazziest cut of the album, but it lacks the nerve and density of the better bands of the style, again the keyboard work is worth mentioning, but I can find no relation between the stretched jazzy experiments and the following Psych/Folk enviroments on acoustic guitar and organ.''Earth'' is a constantly developing Fusion piece, opening with flute and acoustic guitars, synths and calm electric textures take over, but the addition of sax after the middle make this one sound more like Jazz Funk.Overstretched and weak as a whole.

Forgettable combination between Jazz Rock, Folk Rock, Fusion and Psychedelia.Very relaxing overall, close to the likes of Gordon Giltrap or the Argentinian Julio Presas.This kind of music requires some incredible inspiration to be appreciated within its softness, Patch were not among the best bands to perform this style though.

 The Star Suite by PATCH album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.43 | 13 ratings

The Star Suite
Patch Crossover Prog

Review by sl75

3 stars Producer Peter Dawkins conceived this all instrumental album, a concept album based on the zodiac, and divided into four movements based on the four elements. He collaborated with Mike Rudd and Mike McClellan on the music, and put together a band to record the project. The results make pleasant enough background listening, but nothing particularly special. Most of the time, the music consists of the musicians locking onto a fairly simple chord progression and jamming away unspectacularly for a while, then moving on to another similar section and doing the same thing. A comparison? Maybe Caravan without the time signatures, or the chops. The fact that Mike Rudd is the principal co-composer and one of the main featured musicians may be a clue to the problems - as much as I love most of his other work, he is best known as an excellent songwriter (ie someone who writes fantastic lyrics, and creates appropriate music to accompany them) rather than as an outstanding instrumentalist, or composer (ie someone who writes music that stands up well without text). A MIke Rudd instrumental album would not strongly appeal - the closest we've been to such a thing, namely Spectrum's Part One with it's long jams, succeeded because Lee Neale was an interesting organist and Mark Kennedy capable of an excellent drum solo when required - and funnily enough, that album got even better when Rudd put down his guitar and picked up a recorder. There is no one as distinctive as Neale or Kennedy in this band - everyone is competent, but no one is a top-flight virtuoso (or at least there are few signs of such virtuosity in their playing here). The best moment for me is in the final movement, "Earth" - specifically the opening section featuring the Bennelong Trio, contributing some beautiful flute and acoustic guitar. When the band comes in, the quality of their playing and of the composition seems to have lifted from the preceding three movements.
 The Star Suite by PATCH album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.43 | 13 ratings

The Star Suite
Patch Crossover Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars ‘Patch’ was a studio project engineered by ex-New Zealander Peter Dawkins in an Australian studio in the mid-seventies. The artists who made up the project consisted primarily of either musicians Dawkins had worked with before such as Mike Rudd (Spectrum and Ariel) and Rod Coe (the Saints); or regionally-known musicians like Mike Perjanik of the Mike Perjanik Band and soundtrack composer Nathan Waks. Few if any of these guys were known outside the Australia/New Zealand part of the world and there is no indication this was supposed to be a persistent arrangement, so I don’t think this qualifies as a super group or anything.

The premise of the album was to record four tracks, each representing one of the four basic elements of the Zodiac (Air, Fire, Water and Earth). Not a particularly brilliant concept in my opinion, although off the top of my head I can’t think of anyone else who’d done something similar up to that point.

In any case, this is an all-instrumental album, with each track running around the ten minute range. There are hints of Alan Parsons here: the synthesizer and brass on “Earth” especially have a very ‘I Robot’ vibe to them, and parts of the percussion on “Water” is eerily close to the rhythms on the darker parts of “Turn of a Friendly Card”. But all of Parson’s Project albums post-date this one, so that gives you something to think about I suppose. There are a few keyboard riffs that touch on Yes ala ‘Close to the Edge’ as well, but if anything this is mere coincidence. The overall tone of the arrangements is quite sterile, and nothing approaching the pompousness and grandeur of the early seventies Yes albums.

My first impression after hearing this thing is that it was rather uninspired. The musicianship is professional, but there are no distinctive moments like a strong solo or a breathtaking crescendo or even a memorable transition. Just well-scored and tersely executed compositions. And despite the large number of musicians listed in the credits, a surprising large percentage of the music is synthesized, including some drum tracks and fake strings (although there is a cello, albeit an electric one).

The mini-disc Japanese release is the only reissue I’m aware of, and considering the obscurity and banality of the music I would be surprised if the thing ever gets a proper re-release. I really hate to go with two stars for something that seemed to involve a fair amount of effort but I can’t bring myself to like much of anything about this record, so an apologetic two stars it is. Not particularly recommended, especially since as of today you’d have to buy a mini-disc version with some authenticity questions to be able to hear it.


Thanks to micky for the artist addition.

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