Spastic Ink - Ink Compatible

Year of Release: 2004
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:10:00

An album all about computers, with a CD that looks like a disc out of your hard drive and titles that have references to computers and in the press release words of praise from non other that Mike Portnoy! OK, what kind of music is this then? It is the second album of Spastic Ink, the band of guitarist and composer Ron Jarzombek (Watchtower, Gordian Knot), which he formed with his brother Bobby (drums, Halford, Riot). If you are looking for truly progressive, innovative music, this is your album, no matter what you might think of the looks of the album!

Nevertheless, I have to admit the first two tracks kind of blew me off. I don't like the mix of these tracks, especially on the vocals. Mainly opener "Aquanet" has a trashy sound and "Just a Little Bit" has, in addition to that, cookie monster vocals. But from the third track on, an instrumental called "Words For The Nerds," I started to get interested. Here the music tends more toward prog metal, with loads of tempo changes and spoken parts, that give you the feeling of a movie. The acoustic guitar parts also do a lot of good here, very contrasting to the shredding parts in the first two songs.

While the line up of Spastic Ink is completed with Jason McMaster (Watchtower) on vocals and Pete Perez (Riot) on bass, several know names guest on the album, my favourite showing up in "Melissa's Friend": Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation, The Flower Kings). This song deals with computer viruses, and each line of the lyrics has a name of a virus in it. Here, Gildenlöw's vocals really "enhance the song," as also musically it is excellent, the bass work of Perez especially, nice and funky.

Among the other guests are Jens Johansson (Malmsteen, Stratovarius), Sean Malone (Gordian Know) and Marty Friedman (Megadeth). The latter appearing in a song, with the name alone being enough reason to check it out: "A Chaotic Realization Of Nothing Yet Misunderstood," which has some of the better guitar play in it, but with a noteworthy, virtuoso guitar solo by Mr. Friedman. Although it sounds like a standard instrumental, guitar based song, after 5 minutes, the sound changes to a darker mood, with a spoken word part and distorted vocals by McMaster. Here the lyrics are interesting, when you take the first letter of each word of the sentence, you get familiar computer abbreviations, such as HTML (Has The Meaning Left?). Unfortunately in the vocals I get the same feeling as in the beginning of the album. "The Cereal Mouse," really put me off, as this short instrumental, has almost a cartoonish/slapstick sound.

Ink Comaptible is not an easy album to listen to. But it would not do credit to put it away after just the first track! This is an adventure in prog-land, like no other! If you listen closely, you can hear a lot in this album, but be aware: it is not for the soft of ears. It's raw, shredding, yet at times soft and gentle, but then back to raw again. If you dare, try it out, it might surprise you. This album will not become one of my favourite albums, but I do appreciate the creativity that is put into it. So, if you are bored with the many similar sounding releases, give this one a shot.

[This review originally appeared August 2004 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Aquanet (8:10) / Just A little Bit (4:42) / Words For Nerds (5:22) / Melissa's Friend (7:08) / Read Me (4:16) / Multi Masking (8:11) / In Memory Of (6:50) / A Chaotic Realization Of Nothing Yet Misunderstand (12:11) / The Cereal Mouse (1:20) / A Quick Affix (Japanese bonus track)

Ron Jarzombek - guitars, programming, composition, lyrics & production
Pete Perez ? bass
Bobby Jarzombek ? drums
Jason McMaster ? vocals


David Bagsby ? synths
Sean Malone ? bass
Doug Keyzer ? bass
Jens Johannsson ? keyboards
Daniel Gildenlöw ? vocals
Marty Friedman ? guitars
Jimmy Pitts ? keyboards
Michael Manring ? bass
Ray Riendeau ? bass
Jeff Eber ? drums
David Penna - drums

Ink Complete (1997/2000)
Ink Compatible (2004)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: May 29th 2005
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 408
Language: english


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