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Somascetic - 2005 - "The Violence of Distance"

(111 min 2CD, 'Somascetic')


Prolusion. SOMASCETIC is a new American project, comprised of multi-instrumentalist, composer and lyricist Shawn Burnette and drummer/percussionist Andy Reamer. The history of Rock music knows very few cases when an outfit has appeared for the first time with a double album, but here is such a case. "The Violence of Distance" is a double CD album, with more than 110 minutes of music.

Disc I (44 min)


1.  Memory of Dark Intro 0:38
2.  Memory of Dark I 4:51
3.  Memory of Dark II 4:11
4.  Memory of Dark III 4:38
5.  Memory of Dark IV 5:43
6.  Out of the Dust 6:13
7.  Drifting Out Intro 1:13
8.  Drifting Out I 2:46
9.  Drifting Out II 2:07
10. Beneath the Current 5:32
11. Beyond Dimension Intro 1:12
12. Beyond Dimension 5:17

All tracks: by Burnette. 
Produced by Burnette.


Shawn Burnette - guitars, bass; keyboards; vocals
Andy Reamer - drums & percussion

Analysis. In the CD press kit, Shawn says the music of Somascetic can best be described as Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" meets Tool's "Lateralus". It sounds like self-slander to me, because I find the music exceptionally original. I believe that the project does have benefactors, but they are hardly determinable, at least here, on the first disc. After all, I wouldn't draw parallels between "The Violence of Distance" and the said bands or albums either. Well, if one insisted that I cite any comparison, I'd better name "Wildhoney" or "A Deeper Kind of Slumber" by Tiamat, who also claimed they were influenced by Pink Floyd, while they were only inspired by them, too, which is a different matter. There is a certain common ground between this material and "Wildhoney", but it concerns only some stylistic aspects and the overall atmosphere reigning in the music, which is usually rather dark, mysterious and beautiful at once in both cases. Three out of the twelve tracks on the first disc: Memory of Dark Intro, Beyond Dimension Intro and Drifting Out Intro are instrumental pieces, all being very short. Indeed, the first two are just one-theme introductions to the next tracks, but the latter is a full-fledged composition, representing elegant, but ever-changing and quite eclectic interplay between passages of acoustic guitar and electric guitar solos. Overall, the Drifting Out suite hardly surpasses the others, but is the most diverse stylistically. Later on, the music develops from a progressive Doom Metal on Part I to a guitar-laden Art-Rock (with no heaviness at all) on the second part. Beneath the Current follows and sounds in many ways like a logical continuation of its predecessor, but with a much stronger acoustic sense. Excellent stuff, as well as the rest of the material though. The other seven tracks: all four of the parts of Memory of Dark and Out of the Dust, following one another on the disc's first half, and also Beyond Dimension, taking the last position, are submitted to a unified compositional concept. Here, the duo brings together an atmospheric and heavy Space Rock, plus Doom Metal characterized by its contrasting melancholically aggressive sound, bravely and effectively combining or alternating them with each other and showing a really unique approach to unexpectedly replace more or less transparent textures with those much darker and heavier. The guys find a groove early on, using guitar riffs, drums and, at times, synthesizer effects as the primary foundation, soon overlaying those with guitar and bass solos, building intensity and variation almost throughout. With the exception of Memory of Dark IV, which ends with a symphonic piano postlude, each of the songs features the fading away spacey effects instead of a powerful coda, which I welcome. All in all, this is a rare approach, strongly distinguishing Somascetic from most of those exploring similar directions, particularly working in the field of Space Metal. The vocals may be done in unison with guitar riffs, but are mostly reflectively dreamy in character, amazingly contrasting with the density and the eventfulness of instrumental passages.

Disc II (57 min)


1.  Fear of Space 4:19
2.  Amid Ashes Intro 0:44
3.  Amid Ashes I 3:32
4.  Amid Ashes II 4:10
5.  Untitled 4:06
6.  Ancient Remains 5:00
7.  Among the Shadows Intro 1:05
8.  Among the Shadows 4:21
9.  Flood of Souls 5:59
10. Searching Fire 4:02
11. The Violence of Distance Intro 1:03
12. The Violence of Distance I 2:47
13. The Violence of Distance II 4:45
14. Burning Slow I 3:13
15. Burning Slow II 2:59
16. Huge Buzz 4:45


Analysis. The second disc sounds noticeably different from the first, above all due to the large number of acoustic guitar-based songs, most of which, moreover, are located in the vicinity of each other, occupying most spaces of the disc's second third. These are Amid Ashes II, Ancient Remains, Among the Shadows, Flood of Souls and Searching Fire, and now, I must eat my words about the absence of any influences in this material. Each of these has something in common with Pink Floyd and their complicated ballads as Hey You and Wish You Were Here, though the vocals are the only source of an overt resemblance. The music isn't complex, but is pretty mesmerizing, being touched by the wing of magic. Among the five instrumentals on Disc 2, all three of the "intros" are also built around the parts of acoustic guitar. Untitled is the most atypical (perhaps strangest) track on the album. It begins with beautiful symphonic passages of piano accompanied by the sounds of rain and thunder, develops as a rather profound Cathedral Metal, but has only the sounds of electronic percussion on its third part. The remaining instrumental takes the last position and will be mentioned below, in the context. Its track list counterpart, Fear of Space, stands rather separately from the other songs. Despite the fact that there are some quite pronouncedly heavy guitar and bass riffs, it's about atmospheric Space Rock in its entirety. Amid Ashes I is a pure, slow and hypnotic Doom Metal, standing like a rocky island in the sea of quiet compositions. The band has gone heavy again only far below the disc's equator, but kept the high level of energy until the end of the disc. Each of the last five tracks should be described with the same words and epithets I've used when talked of the direction prevailing on the first disc, which is certainly a blend of Space Rock and Doom Metal with elements of atmospheric. Finally, some words must be dedicated to Shawn's lyrics. Philosophical, with a touch of surrealism, pretty dark and disturbing, they, however, are based exclusively on the values common to all mankind, the vector being always directed to light. In the end, it's an appeal to the human mind.

Conclusion. Overall, "The Violence of Distance" is the product of genuine inspiration, which is one of the very factors making a musical work an essential listen. Although not that complicated from a classic progressive standpoint, this music is truly deep, demanding patience from the listeners before presenting them with magical pleasure. No, I didn't make a slip in typing when finishing the previous sentence. Recommended in general, though I am certain that fans of Space Rock and Space Metal will be the first to appreciate the album.

VM: June 15 & 16, 2005

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