Active Child is the working alias of Los Angeles-based composer Pat Grossi. 'You Are All I See' must immediately take its place among the year's finest releases. (What an abundance of riches 2011 has given us!) Mr Grossi's music has an extraordinary breadth of vision; epic, opulent and incandescently uplifting, the ten tracks in this collection unite a classical-prog sensibility with right-here right-now rhythm. Our host truly understands the magic inherent in the human voice and his voice is, indeed, magical (I understand he was a choirboy in an earlier incarnation and it shows). It is an instrument which soars untethered in the big blue realm of the sky. His sense of harmonic structure, too, is simply outstanding. There is something almost hymn-like permeating these densely-layered compositions which speaks to the spirit as much as the intellect. The term "uplifting" barely defines it. I know I've said it before and elsewhere but this music really does make the world a better place and in these difficult times that's got to be a good thing!
The songs are largely slow to mid-paced in tempo but we do not require greater acceleration than this to make our hearts beat faster. Take 'Way Too Fast' as but one glorious example : the gently pulsing rhythm and swooping vocal cadences, fractured here and there with subtle electronic treatments, create an eerie, almost alchemical, ritual of sound. Mr Grossi possesses a fearless and perfectly modulated falsetto which shapes the well-crafted lyrics into patterns which seem almost liquid in character. 'Hanging On', too, employs shape-shifting choral accents to support the remarkably soulful central vocal performance. It made my jaw go slack with pure wonder and admiration (and we're talking a very big jaw here!) 'Johnny Belinda' is a sad tale plaintively told; a modern day requiem but we must look to the opening track 'You Are All I See' to experience the full breadth of Mr Grossi's singular vision; a Highland air of-sorts, studded with harp-like arpeggios and Blade Runner synth intrusions, it brought tears to this old Wolf's eyes and made the long night a less desolate place.
I got 'Hanging On' as a free track from this album a couple of years back on an Amazon sampler. Crept way up into my top plays on the i tunes and therefore I decided to get the whole album. Love it. Its a bit eighties, a bit Alt-j. Quirky in places, moody in others.