The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many people to learn how to achieve things virtually from online learning, remote work, telehealth, and creating music. The Virtualistics, a band led by vocalist Patrick Ames, are no different. In 2020, they recorded their new self-titled album despite never meeting or never practicing together.
“I would start by writing new songs and then recording the shell and putting the arrangement together,” explains Ames. “Then I would email samples around, trying to get Chana and Mikaela together for a Zoom meeting where I would watch and listen to them record in a spare bedroom and into Chana’s homemade sound box. Their tracks were sent to me and I would do the first arrangement pass and add any changes to my tracks, and then send off the whole jumbled thing to Jon, usually apologetically. He recorded the bass, fixed the percussion and timing, recorded the extra elements (organ, guitars, and guitar solos) and mastered the sound issues from all our funky home studios and recordings. [..] Amazingly, it sounds like we were together, unvirutally, I guess is the word. It sounds like a 9-piece band that is funkin’ up the place even though we were half-depressed and struggled with work, virus, and bad politics.”
The album starts off strong with “Help People Out,” an upbeat song that feels like a promising start.
The EP hits a snag with “Rubber and Glue” and “Great Bunch of Molecules” as the former is too repetitive and the latter is a bit forgettable.
Things pick back up with “Essential Worker” and “Songwriter’s Block” with an upbeat tempo with “Essential Worker” being especially timely and a standout track.
“I am an essential worker / I make deliveries / Virus waves have wiped this place / I travel empty streets. / We know we are disposable / but essential people must eat / Everyone has gone inside / to wait for their deliveries,” sings Ames over
The sultry-voiced background singers are also a standout on this project—especially in “You Make Me Want to Scream.”
Listen to the full EP here.