t’s always seemed like Tom Nicol had at least the ability to see around corners, if not into the future. The hypnotic and abrasive “Ramblings from a Troubled Universe” from his one-man band, “Four Dimensional Nightmare,” sounds blustery, dystopian and epic, and if you listen to it when you’re sick in bed with a fever, you might think the future is happening now and pulling you in two different directions at once.
Consider, for example, “The Portal.” Toward the end there’s a screech as if a train is coming into the station, but things seem to be picking up speed or at least getting more urgent at the same time.
What’s going on here? People have been been making synth, drum machine and shredding guitar play nice for some time, now. And the trippy appeal of mind-blowing soundscapes didn’t originate with the awesome, bewildering end of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The difference on this CD is the suggestion, gentle in its own way, that reality is a veneer thinner than an aging hipster’s hair, and that we’d all be better off not looking at the ground – or what we think the ground is – but up, out, all the way to the stars.
Is he right? Who knows? But “Ramblings from a Troubled Universe” makes entertaining the possibility a hell of a ride. Sit down and strap in.