Revolt Magazine - Review

Posted by Rob Johnson on Sunday, September 13, 2009 Under: Reviews
An instrumental album of positively momentous strength, Rob Johnson’s Upon A Painted Ocean is intensely powerful. Although it fuses elements of various genres and styles, the guitar-centered album maintains its fluidity and drifts effortlessly from track to track. While this undeniably creates a wonderful album, each song still stands out in its own right. The overall effect of such great parts creating a seamless whole is an album well worth listening to again and again.

“Point The Gun And Pull The Trigger” opens the album, giving a quick demonstration of the way in which Johnson so brilliantly brings different guitar tones and styles together. From clean acoustic to heavily distorted electric sounds, the guitar work is layered and extremely pleasing to the ear. “Monster Eats The Pilot” continues to showcase Johnson’s talent, while weaving elements of other instrumentation and programming into the guitar work. The result is more complex, but not at all chaotic. The instrumentation is carefully balanced so that each part works with those around it to better the song as a whole.

Evoking a much brighter mood is “Maimed Titles,” a track which sets its foundations in gentle acoustic melodies. Despite their intricacies, the parts are presented in such a way as to send effortless. The song crescendos, eventually bringing in more instruments and female vocal parts. The transition allows the song to end with a much heavier rock feel than it begins with. “…End Credits” returns to a gentler sound, blending sounds of acoustic guitars and programmed parts into a cohesive whole.

Opening with a stint of programming that could find itself at home in a rap song is “The Goodbye Ledger.” The song progresses gradually, with guitars entering into the instrumentation almost undetected at first. A steady backbeat and new guitar tones allow the song to swell brilliantly, until it suddenly falls away to intricate acoustic sweeps midway through. Some of the most impressive guitar playing on the album bridges the gap into another swell before the song reaches its atonal conclusion. “Hello Magda” explores interesting rhythms in its introduction, growing more melodically and harmonically charged as it progresses. Though the guitar delves into many different elements of music, the song remains simple and straightforward. The honesty of unaccompanied acoustic guitar is a refreshing breath in the midst of such an immense album.

Upon A Painted Ocean’s final track is “Amy G. Dala,” a quick and uplifting song with gentle melodies and a danceable feel. Programming and guitar work fuse brilliantly to convey changes in mood. Halfway through, “Amy G. Dala” plays host to guest vocalist from Say Anything’s Max Bemis, his voice easily identified even in spoken tones. The spoken part adds a new layer of dramatic depth to the album, giving it a sense of completion and adding immensely to the album before it breaks into heavy guitars and ends with an undeniable strength. Upon A Painted Ocean transcends different layers of emotion and musical genre to form an undivided whole which is nearly seamless, both literally and figuratively. – BRETT PRASKACH

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