Metcalf, Thomas - One

Year of Release: 1990
Label: Clockwork Records
Catalog Number: CWCD-1
Format: CD
Total Time: 42:08:00

Angular electronica. Even in its quiet moments, there's sharpness. Synthesizers blurb and bleat and parp and sing, and the only thing missing is the digital visuals to along with this. None of the tracks are titled other than by a single letter, "D," "C", "A," etc. I'm not enough of a student of music to tell you whether the titles denote the key the track is played in. Thus they could merely represent the order the compositions were written in. But this enigmatic nomenclature gives you no preconceived ideas or imagery for the composition.

As I often do, I try to draw comparisons to other artists where words otherwise fail me. Well, I really can't do so here. Tangerine Dream might be a touchstone, but the music here is so much more vibrant and alive than anything they've produced recently - and it isn't until hearing this that I'm aware of that fact. Not that I'm going to go back and say they now "suck" - but there is something palpable here ... a pulse even when there isn't an audible one.

As angular as I think of King Crimson, Thomas Metcalf takes that one step further on One. These are very, very sharp edges, shiny, glistening, and dazzling enough that you don't notice them latching on to you and holding you fast. Again, I must remind you that I'm not given to hyperbole. There is chilliness to Metcalf's tone that throughout, I pictured ice. There it is - musical ice sculptures. But, do go in expecting anything remotely Crimson-like. Just like if I said there is a booming power like Emerson Lake Palmer achieved with Tarkus, I wouldn't want you expecting anything remotely like Emerson. And can't help but wonder if he wasn't a component of Metcalf's mix, when you hear the percussive tones of "F."

Speaking of ice, "G" in particular made me think of the holidays, of those Mannheim Steamroller tracks. Now, I know Mannheim Steamroller take a lot of flack, but as I like them I mean this as compliment. And besides, Metcalf doesn't sound like the Steamroller, but there is a similar energy.

The other thought that popped into my head as well is that Metcalf would be the perfect accompaniment for something like... Even Further Beyond The Minds Eye. There is something very visual about his arrangements. There is always something going on here, it just keeps moving... But there are those above mentioned quite moments where the keys smooth out into a runner pausing to catch his or her breath before setting off on the next leg.

Metcalf's tool kit is as follows: Rhodes Chroma, Mellotron, Ensoniq: EPS, SQ-80, Mirage and Piano, SCI Drumtraks, and Gato Drum. Synergy (Larry Fast) is but one artist that others have compared Metcalf to, and Fast himself has written a liner note quote.

An intriguing release to say the least.

"D" (6:00) / "C" (4:25) / "A" (2:59) / "B" (5:08) / "E" (3:25) / "G" (10:49) / "F" (10:02)

Thomas Metcalf - Rhodes Chroma, Mellotron, Ensoniq: EPS SQ-80 Mirage and Piano, SCI Drumtraks, and Gato Drum

One (1990)

Genre: Electronic

Origin US

Added: November 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 848
Language: english


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