full-fledged multi-instrumentalist, compositional talent, and a rich sound
Prolusion. "An Effigy of Solitude" is the debut album by the young American
musician and composer Matt KONFIRST. It is 31+ minutes in length, which one
may consider a drawback, I, for one, do not. I regard any recording lasting
more than 30 minutes as a full-length album. Otherwise, how should I think
about King Crimson's 31-minute "Vroom", which I find much better than its
follow-up, "Thrak"? After all, not a single album by Gentle Giant was ever
called an EP either.
Synopsis. What would you expect from an album by another
newcomer-individualist, especially since no instruments are mentioned in
the CD booklet where there is only stated that Mr. Konfirst alone performed
all the tracks here? Me too. I was almost certain that there is nothing
else but a traditional synthetically electronic stuff on "An Effigy of
Solitude", and I never before was so much mistaken in my presuppositions as
in this case. In reality, it turned out to be that Matt is a full-fledged
multi-instrumentalist and, thus, is a true Solo Pilot - to Prog and related
dimensions, of course! Sure, by saying all this, I imply his compositional
talent as well. To say that the album has a rich sound is to say almost
nothing. At least at the moment, I can't recall the other solo flyers'
efforts that would sound as rich and variegated as the hero of this review.
Matt has spared no color to paint "An Effigy of Solitude" and show all the
dramatics and, simultaneously, the complexity of the state of loneliness,
which is always emotionally mental, and not physical, in its nature. Not
counting one guitar solo on I Dream Prophecy (1), which is done clearly in
the vein of Ritchie Blackmore's 'proprietary', immediately recognizable
style, the music is fresh-sounding throughout. Besides, most of the pieces,
most of which, in their turn, are located in the second half of the CD, are
marked with signs of outstanding originality and those of innovation alike,
as these things are usually inseparable from each other. Only four
compositions are made up of familiar (in a general sense) musical textures.
These are the said opening track, and also Release, Lifecycles, and Freedom
(4, 7, & 10), each representing Progressive Cathedral Metal, where, though,
most of the guitar solos are classically influenced, and those of
synthesizer sound like being fragile. Generally, various - tempo, tone, etc
- contrasts are among the main virtues of this recording. On the other
tracks, melodiousness is completely out, and eclecticism, often bordering
an eccentricity, is in. Each of them is both much deeper and darker than
the previously described ones, which, though, are good in their own ways.
Into the Madness and The Void (2 & 8) are the entities of a highly
intricate Doom Metal with RIO, at least quasi RIO tendencies. The same
words are in many ways topical with regard to Epiphany (3), despite the
fact that the composition has Blues Rock in its basis. The RIO-related
musical forms are much more evident on most of the remaining pieces, all of
which were performed without the rhythm section. While shorter than any of
the other tracks here, Obsessive, Restless, and Lifecycles (5, 6, & 7) are
free of any possible frameworks and consist of ever-changing interplay
between passages of piano and synthesizer and a few different solos of
electric guitar, most of which were certainly overdubbed. They represent a
confluence of both of the Classical and Avant-garde kinds of Academic
music, which is too obvious to be described differently. Instrumentally,
Prelude & Invention (9) is of the same story and features similar musical
events, which, however, is only seemingly. In fact, this is Classical
Academic music in purest form. Do you see how many different musical
directions are presented on this short album? Yes, Matt is a gifted,
inventive and, what especially pleases me, an amazingly open-minded
composer, easily covering most, if not all, of the basic progressive
genres. His mastery as a musician, at least as a guitar and keyboard
player, is beyond any doubt.
Conclusion. I had a great desire to rate "An Effigy of Solitude" as a
masterpiece, but since I hardly tolerate drum machines, regardless of how
excellently they are programmed, I am forced to detract a half of a star.
Hey Matt! All you need to become the Fifth Element hero is to concentrate
on the most extraordinary aspects of your compositional thinking and form a
real band or, at least, invite a drummer in the project.
VM: June 3, 2004