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Non-Prog CD Reviews

WiltMan

Lo-Files 01

Review by Gary Hill

While the majority of the set is instrumental and the guitar dominates the mix, this is not really a guitar hero type sound. Sure, the guitar seems to be soloing throughout the majority of the disc. The thing is, it’s not soloing for some kind of flashy dramatic effect. It’s soloing to provide the melody. It’s like this music is written as “songs,” but the guitar is serving almost as the vocal for the bulk of this. It’s a great concept and works really well.

The music manages to work between a number of music styles and each piece seems to encompass several. In fact, it can be really hard to pin even one song down to a particular sound or musical style. Instrumental music doesn’t even fit completely. This material is so good, though, that it transcends labels. This is timeless music that should appeal to a wide range of people. Those who demand vocals will only find solace in the final track, but those who have a real craving for melody will be served by the whole set of songs.

Albums that are purely instrumental, or almost in this case, can often feel tired and redundant. This disc never really suffers from that at all. The reason for that seems to be the fact that these pieces are constructed as real songs, with an eye on the melody and the mood. This isn’t some flash-fest of a million notes a minute. Instead, it’s songs that just happen to be done without vocals. However one looks at it, though, this is very strong. The only real complaint is that it’s over too soon.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Cats of Rome
There’s a great retro cool styled guitar sound on “Cats of Rome.” It has hints of such musical styles as surf, rockabilly and country. In some ways the sounds aren’t that far removed from the kind of music for which Chris Isaak is known.
W82grow
This has more of a dramatic power. It’s not that far removed from some of the instrumental guitar based prog of acts like Djam Karet. At least that’s true in terms of the mellower side of those types of acts. There are also bits of jazz in this number. While there’s not a huge change, while the opener had sort of a quirky style to it, this one is more mainstream, but equally satisfying.
Big Mouth Bird
If the previous cut had some jazz in place, “Big Mouth Bird” is well drenched in that genre. Still, there are bits of rockabilly in the cut, and it has an almost electronic vibe to it in the rhythm section. The guitar soloing bits here are particularly tasty.
Autumn
This still has accompaniment, but really the arrangement is much more stripped down, making it more of a guitar solo than anything else. That said, it’s melodic and never showy. Melody is the master of the game.
Hush
With spoken clips in the background of the whole piece, “Hush” seems to be the logical progression back upward from the previous number. In other words, it’s still more stripped down than much of the rest of the set, but has more going on than the nearly pure guitar soloing of “Autumn.”
Sixmiles
With “Sixmiles” the dramatic guitar soloing takes center stage. It’s perhaps not a huge change from the previous piece, but still works really well.
Know-Where
While musically the disc’s closer, “Know-Where” isn’t a massive change, there are vocals to it. That, in itself makes it a unique piece amongst all these instrumentals. The male vocals are in a low register and rather far back in the mix. They are also really strong. There are also some soulful female vocals later in the piece. As good as this track is and as well as the vocals work, it’s surprising that the rest of the disc is served purely instrumental.
 
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