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THOMAS TOMSEN Sunflickers Rock Werk Records (2011)

Thomas Tomsen The first question has to be: how the hell do you get such a Stellar Cast playing on your album? It seems that money talks, but I wonder whether it talks louder than the intrinsic value of the music?

This could only explain why Bob Daisley, Derek Sherinian, and Dug Pinnick (King's X) et al have lent their talents to this otherwise lack-lustre offering. For German guitarist Tomsen, though, it appears to be a misconstrued and misguided vanity project.

Tomsen played in a band Acari in the 1990s and in various solo projects, starting out at an early age and switching to guitar as a teenager.

Instrumental guitar albums are hard to make different, but they have to be made much easier when you have such stellar sessioners in attendance (or more specifically down the optical fibre).

But it's the songs here, and the playing, that - as with many a Satch/Vai/Malmsteen contender - let the whole project down.

You might have thought that with such heavyweights as Tony Franklin and Derek Sherinian the album would take on a more intense fusion flavour, but no.

There's, and how can I put this, a sort of beer-hall oompah-ishness to the proceedings: never more so than on 'Swedish Toccata' which includes ex-Yngwie sideman Michael Troy. But guitarists have been doing this neo-classical shit since the mid-1980s and we are all frankly sick of it.

Tomsen's guitar work is then tonally and stylistically uninspiring and unexciting, and no amount of stellar input can save it. Put simply, it's a waste of their collective energies in these hardened economic times.

No bail out for Tomsen: his budget would have been better spent on a damn good producer. And then, having been read the riot act, leaving a little aside for a consolatory case or two of Blue Nun. Stellar Cast: examine your consciences.


Review by David Randall

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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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