Spastic Ink - Ink Complete
Review by Scott Andrews, Sea Of Tranquility
Spastic Ink is an instrumental trio from Texas led by guitarist Ron Jarzombek, who played with the landmark progressive metal band Watchtower in the late 80s. Watchtower's second CD Control and Resistance sounded like power metal with totally off the wall riffs and playing. This chaotic jumble of traditional metal with crazy vocals and songwriting appealed to some metal fans (including Tom G. Warrior of Celtic Frost, who got them the deal with Noise), but not so much to the general public, and Watchtower never broke through. Spastic Ink formed in 1993, and includes Ron's brother Bobby on drums and Pete Perez on bass, both formerly of Riot. The band's name means "crazy, written out music."
Ink Complete combines 11 tracks from two earlier demos, That 178 Thing and Ink Complete (Preview Cassette, 1995). Each song is based on a musical theme or written around a non-musical idea, and the CD booklet explains that inspiration, along with little cartoons. For example, "The Mad Data Race" sounds mechanical like a computer and is 5 and 1/4 minutes long, "A Morning With Squeaky" has a shrill melody that sounds like a chattering squirrel, and then there's "Mosquito Brain Surgery." Several songs are crafted around musical ideas or chord patterns, like "See, and It's Sharp," which uses only two notes - C and C# - across five octaves. A band that can write an interesting song using only two musical notes is pretty damn good. The only cover tune on the CD is "A Wild Hare," an old 40s cartoon with all the cartoon music, voices, sound effects, and noises played by the band. It's amazing. A lot of instrumental records have 10 songs that sound the same, but each of these is unique and different.
The playing on Ink Complete is nothing short of brilliant. Jarzombek's guitar work is reminiscent of Steve Vai, with rising solos that wail slowly or rip a hundred miles an hour. Perez follows Jarzombek's lead, playing solid rhythm bass as well as fast licks high up on the neck. Bobby Jarzombek keeps excellent time behind all of this craziness. Spastic Ink is certainly no ordinary metal, but if you like intelligent instrumental music, well written and well played, with a sense of humor, check out Ink Complete. This CD is only available in the US by mail order through the band, but it is available in Europe.
Scott Andrews, Sea Of Tranquility