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GEOFF TYSON Slow, Mad Descent (2007)

Geoff Tyson's 'Slow Mad Descent' is one of those annoying slow burners that after one hearing tempts you to return to it, if only just to check out some of the insistent grooves, crunchy riffs and post psychedelic quirky moments that lodge themselves in your memory recall and demand a repeat play

The album kicks off abrasively with the rocky ‘Supernova' which has a strong melody line, some powerful riffs, but also a distorted vocal line before it segues into altogether more catchy album highlight ‘Polyrhythm. The latter is a luscious piece that is predicated on the clever use of the F word in compound form, before giving way to an avalanche of guitar overload. It ultimately returns to the simple tic toc percussive pattern and the repeated line in question. There's a soft porn video to go with it on his web site, though being American it's a bit insipid. They should have worked on this in France!

The following jazzy intro to the synth/guitar-led instrumental ‘Reminders' is puzzling, but like great chunks of this album Geoff's core ideas become subsumed by a production overload. He also has the annoying habit of phasing his voice too often and a result the lyrics are sometimes indecipherable. ‘Mean Street' is an example of both his strengths and his weaknesses with a strong funky rhythm track allied with some decent synth and guitar lines. There's a Floydian feel to the track while the double tracked vocals recall Steve Miller's mid 70's work – a style Geoff returns to on the ‘doodoodoodoo' vocals of ‘Antidote'. The song hits a real groove at the midway point and Geoff tops it with some meandering guitar work over a repeated chanted vocal refrain, before ultimately resolving the piece with a spiralling solo guitar. ‘Mean Street' is a production highlight of the set standing in sharp contrast to much of the busy layered sound on the rest of the album.

Too often the arrangements lose their focus in a languid mid tempo dirge, but the balance is redressed on the splendid gentle groove of ‘The Urge', which like the impressive ‘Polyrhythm' gains its primacy from an uncluttered melody.

Aside from this album Geoff is an innovator who is at the cutting edge of a future application called ‘TysonApp' which will let you download his music direct to a mobile in an interactive context, allowing you to see the lyrics, view the art work, check out the video etc. This mix of art and technology is definitely groundbreaking, but you just wish he's simplify his own recordings and focus more on the songs and less on technology.

The closing ballad is his most ambitious vocal performance and has a plaintive Coldplay feel about it. It doesn't quite make it, but as a statement of artistic intent it's very interesting. As I said, this album is a slow burner and ‘Polyrhythm' alone might just launch Geoff to a wider audience.


Review by Pete Feenstra

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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