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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Phil Lomac

Phil Lomac

Review by Gary Hill

Mr. Lomac has given us an album full of strong songs. That doesn’t mean this is a strong disc, though. No, it is a collection of potent music, but if you take it as a whole it’s monolithic and really drags you down. There’s not enough diversity in terms of instrumentation, song structure and even tempo to prevent this from feeling like one long piece of music. As such it fails. If you take anyone song from this and play it by itself it’s quite strong, though. It’s just as an exercise in listening to a whole album that this doesn’t work. The track that’s most damaged by this effect is the closing number, which is actually the best piece here. I seldom make this recommendation, but don’t buy the whole disc. If you can just download individual tracks do that. Or, if you buy the whole thing don’t listen to it in sequence. These pieces need room to breath and they don’t get it here. Lomac is extremely talented and every song is quite good. Taken as a whole, though – not so much.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
So Right, So Wrong
A rather droning acoustic guitar bit starts us off and then it grows from there. Although this is essentially a stripped down alternative rock jam it’s got some weird little elements and a bit of a Beatles aesthetic at time. There are some overlayers later that call to mind Radiohead a bit and this is powered out later into a distortion laden excursion.
Castaway
In some ways this feels like a reprise of the previous piece, but it is its own song. This is a short one that almost has a Pink Floyd goes stripped down alternative pop feeling to it.
No Connection
Here is a more straightahead rocker. It has the feeling of a singer songwriter number, but with a more rocking arrangement. The vocals really steal the show here and this is the best cut we’ve heard so far. This does alternate between harder rocking and mellower motifs and it’s just a real winner.
Tallest Hill
Although much of this song is based on a minimalist sort of musical approach, I pick up on Beatles vibe on the vocals. When the arrangement fills out a bit more that element is expanded upon. This is great modern music with ties to the past. 
Same Line
A slow moving, acoustic based motif makes up this track. It’s got a more powered up take on it, but overall stays fairly folky and stripped down. It’s a good tune and at times reminds me of Porcupine Tree a bit. 
Daylight Fades
This cut is OK, but it really doesn’t stand out. It’s a bit too much like the songs around it and just doesn’t manage to stand out. 
Blue
While the overall motif isn’t changed the melody and delivery here are strong enough to make up for that in style. I like this one a lot and it’s one of the best cuts on show here. 
Carousel
Bouncy and rather folky, this is a tasty track. The general sameyness of the disc is starting to wear a bit thin by here, but this one manages to stand out as a highlight of the disc. That’s a tribute to the strength of this piece. 
State of Risk
Here we get a harder rocking, crunchy, tune. Personally, I think the change that it represents would have been more effective if the pace of the track were drastically different than the rest of the material. By this point the tempo is just about identical from song to song – and that makes things a little boring. Still, this one works pretty well despite that drawback. 
In Good Faith
It’s a shame that the monolithic nature of the disc really hits hard here. It makes it difficult to truly appreciate this piece and taken by itself it’s the best track on the album. Everything we’ve heard to this point is woven together into a powerful musical tapestry that has a lot in common with Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd. Do yourself a favor and listen to this one without the rest of the disc. The whole nearly one tempo and one sound of the whole album weighs way too heavily by now. This song deserves to be heard.
 
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