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CD REVIEW: Jon Gomm - Anti-Industry
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CD REVIEW: Jon Gomm
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"There are few musicians on this planet who know a guitar as well as their lover's skin- Jon Gomm is one of the elite."


Jon Gomm - Hypertension

"What has pulled the score down is the meshing of bland vocals and uninspired melodies with what could easily be legendary chops."
4/5
By Kristyn Cunningham
email :: avaricemurony
Favorite Tracks:
>> Clockwork clip
>> H clip
>> Hey Child clip

Forget everything you thought you knew about acoustic guitar. Jon Gomm has changed the face of acoustic forever. His album, Hypertension, is recorded using only one guitar and one voice. Although it tells you this several times on the liner notes, I am still incredibly hesitant to believe it. His guitar sings, screams, sets a dizzying rhythm and floats ethereally over his voice - all at once. Jon secretly has a third arm that plays as well, often thumping the beat on the side of the guitar. I'm sorry, Jon- the secret is out!


In all seriousness, seeing Jon play removes any doubt that this disc was overdubbed. His fingers fly furiously all over the guitar- there's very little he doesn't use to make some kind of sound. His hands fly all over the instrument in a graceful dance, like the two are intimate partners, spinning around a moonlit dance floor. It's almost as if he's a snake charmer or a magician, coaxing supernatural sounds from within.


So why isn't it a 5/5?


First of all, Jon's voice is good, but it's not nearly as good as it needs to be to carry these songs on acoustic alone. He has a decent range and average control over it, but it isn't particularly incredible or powerful. It sometimes gets lost underneath the guitar or drowned amongst all the commotion going on with the multiple beats. It's pretty obvious, and perhaps rightfully so, that Jon's voice is at the bottom of the list in terms of importance.


But the voice is an instrument as well, requiring just as much love and attention as honing guitar skills this amazing takes. Of course, Jon's been playing guitar since before he could really even speak articulately (he got his first guitar at age 2), but that's not an excuse not to push your vocals to a higher level.


I think the main problem with this CD is that you keep listening to it to find out what crazy thing he's going to do to his guitar next, not because you're spellbound by the song itself. Many of his tunes are a minute or two too long, often reaching the point of self-indulgence with their length. Nothing about the songs really reach out and grab you as a whole- sure the guitar slaps you in the face every single second of every song, but the melodies are fairly generic and his voice sounds like he's merely singing words written on a piece of paper by someone else. There isn't really one particular song that's a standout from the next. Each song fades into the following one, one long blur of a guitar prodigy who forgot the most core element of a good album- variance. The entire disc seems rather lackluster.


With that said, let me go back to the positive to end this. There are few musicians on this planet who know a guitar as well as their lover's skin- Jon Gomm is one of the elite. He has skill that defies logic and reason and for that, I give him a 4/5. Otherwise, this is just another cookie cutter acoustic album. It may sound like a contradiction to say that after I just called him elite, but for a man with such stunning skills, I expected more in terms of vocals and melody.

3/5
By Kate
email :: juliekate
Favorite Tracks:
>> High & Dry
>> Wait in Vain
>> Hey Child clip

This was a hard CD to put a number on, because I've never before been faced with the question, Are you rating originality or your personal opinion? I reluctantly stamp on my score of 3/5 because this unfortunately is not a CD I will probably listen to again.

It doesn't help that Jon's style is like nothing I've ever heard before. Here is an artist who takes playing a guitar to the sixth dimension. Every song is a gentle assault on your senses. But what I have found is that the songs lack climax, they lack buildup and anticipation. They don't lack skill, nor do they lack a vivid aural landscape that I would lose myself in when driving, but what has pulled the score down the most is the meshing of bland vocals and uninspired melodies with what could easily be legendary chops.


On several tracks, like Clockwork and Swallow You Whole, there is a trance induced by the rhythms and meandering voice of the strings. But then the vocals pop in out of nowhere, sometimes so offkey that I suspect it was an artistic statement of discord, but still leaves me with an unpleasant attitude toward the vocals. I was almost annoyed - these tracks would truly benefit from simply being instrumental, or a different note being held in the key being played.

One thing that I believe may contribute to this album's miss of the mark is the way Jon is singing. Some tracks have an wraithlike reverb on the vocals that are dreamy, but Jon delivers them in a Creed-like growl. The styles don't quite match. Not to mention that every song uses this same template, the dreamy atmosphere, the outrageously compelling guitarline, and then vocals that grate and mar the softness. Jon also seems to like the same notes which makes the songs extended versions of each other. There's no variation on this CD that is immediately obvious, and the vocals are displayed in such a way that I don't have a desire to sit and dissect the song. They're rather distracting.

Happy Room is a perfect example. It has such potential to showcase Jon in full but the gravelly voice and the clicking and popping going on in the background brings up images of a busy terminal and you, the hayseed, have no idea where to look first. Instead of being overwhelmed in awe, it's intimidating and unfriendly. I think this song's story is lost in the bustle of the mix, and either the vocals or the "busy-ness" of the guitar needs to take a backseat.

There is no denying Jon's alien skill with a guitar in his hands. For that alone I would happily give him a 5/5. But the vocals and the lack of variation in the CD have disappointed me just a bit and left me wanting more from the current CD, instead of wanting more songs to listen to. By song 3 you get the point that he has lightning dexterity and independent limb control that puts punk drummers on a 12 piece kit to shame; his singular skill gives you the impression that he could truly dazzle with a wider range of instruments. Even changing the kind of acoustic he is playing would perfect the tone of this CD.

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