Patient Hands is Alex Stooshinoff’s second EP released in November 2015. The songwriter drew musical inspiration from field recordings taken whilst trekking across the Camino de Santiago – a pilgrimage route in Spain. Patient Hands is reflective of the spirituality often associated with trekking across the Camino de Santiago.
“I actually wrote the album upon returning home to Saskatoon after the Camino. My parents have a cabin at Jackfish Lake nearby and I took all my gear up there and wrote the album. It was very romantic; There was no running water, and the heating was insufficient so I was using a wood-burning fireplace. I mostly went for long walks at sunset, and I read Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and Lee Harper’s To Kill a Mockingbird,” said Stooshinoff.
He further added, “The Camino shaped the album in the sense that I had all of these recordings of it—these recordings literally are the Camino— and I used music to express my feelings about it. But I intended to make a really positive record. I wanted to make Patient Hands the reconciliation of my bad time on the Camino.”
In comparison to Stooshinoff’s first album, Stasis, featuring instrumental music, Patient Hands is much more organic, relying primarily on naturalistic sounds and a persistent background drone. The free rhythm and single melody line predominant in the album gives it a simplistic, yet relaxing sound.
Stooshinoff acknowledged that the process of creating Patient Hands was entirely novel: “Stasis was such a curated record. I slaved over it. I knew exactly what it was going to be. Patient Hands was much more open-ended. I wrote it in about a week, recorded it in five days, and mixed it in three. It was actually really nerve-wracking because I had forced myself to make creative decisions very quickly, whereas with Stasis I spent months re-recording tracks, it took six weeks to mix.”
The artistic achievement of this album is Stooshinoff’s successful fusion of naturalistic sounds— chirping birds and sounds of rain—with synthetic chords interspersed in the background. A perfect example of this fusion can be heard in “Statement, Echo, and Noise,” where the interaction between nature and man-made sounds achieves a calming balance.
Another notable track is “Breath Across the Mirror.” The track takes on an almost spiritual quality with its sonorous vocals, similar in quality to the Benedictine monks singing a Gregorian chant.
Stooshinoff revealed, “The vocals for ‘Breath Across a Mirror’ are mine. I just did a vocal improvisation and that’s what I ended up with.”
Patient Hands is an extremely raw collection of tracks that evoke a sense of spirituality and tranquility.