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(52:28, Sluggo's Goon Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Ursa Minor 7:10 2. Space 6:38 3. The Fog & The Mist 4:19 4. Rain Water 3:07 5. JP Splatter 4:43 6. Buz 7:38 7. Empty Hands 1:16 8. Between a Prayer & a Dream 3:51 9. So It Goes 5:03 10. Rebirth 3:32 11. Garden Buddha 5:12 LINEUP: James Von Buelow – guitars; keyboards; vocals Damon Trotta – bass; dobro; programming Steve Decker – drums, percussion Glenn Suelwar – guitar, mandolin Pete Teresi – guitar Sunshine – vocals
Prolusion. “I Think a Think” is the first official outing by the US combo VON GARCIA. Only the two first two musicians from the lineup above, James Von Buelow and Damon Trotta, appear on all eleven of its tracks, though the latter at times exclusively as a drum programmer. As to the other participants, I only can say for sure that drummer Steve Decker plays on most of the tracks. The mandolin and acoustic guitar are heard rarely, while female vocals are completely absent. Maybe that ‘Sunshine’ is a male who provides narratives on a few of the pieces.
Analysis. As to the recording itself, it is a time-consuming and generally quite an adventurous affair to describe it properly. All the tracks are basically slow-paced; the pauses between them are either tiny or are filled with effects, so – especially upon the first spin – the album might easily appear as stylistically a near-monolithic musical canvas. In reality, it only seemingly falls somewhere in the domain of reflective Space Rock, meaning in its entirety. The music indeed tends to be flowing, but in most cases it is just floating, i.e. changeable too, relying to a greater degree on natural, instrumental, diversity than on a textural one, and can even occasionally evolve into a powerful, edgy, sonic attack as evinced on the best tracks here, namely Space and The Fog & the Mist. There are only three pieces with vocals on the disc: Ursa Minor, Between a Prayer & a Dream and So It Goes, and all of them are fairly similar to each other, on most levels. That’s not to say that they are patterned after Pink Floyd, but nevertheless their style is definite and is post-Pink Floyd quasi-Space Rock with hints of ‘90s Porcupine Tree, James changing his singing on each, evoking Damian Wilson (yeah, that very fruity vocalist of Landmarq and Threshold fame), David Gilmour and Steven Wilson, respectively. His guitar soloing here has a specific fluid tone which instantly brings to mind David Gilmour, while when playing keyboards (synthesizers, piano and organ) he doesn’t remind me of anyone else. One of the instrumentals, Rain Water, strongly echoes the beginning of “A Momentary Lapse of Reason”. It perfectly suits the disc opener, Ursa Minor, in mood and atmosphere and so should have been used as an intro to it, in my view. Otherwise James plays his guitar for the most part in a quasi-improvisational style, while as a keyboardist he provides either psychedelic synthesizer lines or looping spacey grooves that serve exclusively as a backdrop for what can be labeled as the principal musical events. As for the rest of the material, there are the space-fusion explorations of The Fog & the Mist, Space and Rebirth (with some Latin-American intonations on the latter two), the blending of fusionesque moves and electronic devices of Garden Buddha and Buz, and the rattling as well as muttering electronics of JP Splatter and Empty Hands, none of the last three named pieces featuring an acoustic drum kit. Full of odd meters, the first two of the space-fusion compositions are excellent from any standpoint. It’s just on those where the project’s participants are at their most original, versatile and imaginative all alike, and only with great reservation that I would define this music as a cross between Porcupine Tree, Ozric Tentacles, mid-‘70s Gong and early ‘80s Peter Gabriel.
Conclusion. With the exception of a couple of pieces (those that are stuffed with electronics, of course), I either like or at least appreciate all the compositions presented, as even the instantly accessible of them achieve an intriguing atmosphere that draws me in. If you like the idea that runs all through the review you won’t be disappointed with its object, I’m pretty sure. In all, Von Garcia’s “I Think a Think” is an interesting debut.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: May 3, 2009
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