"Ron Jarzombek - Solitarily Speaking Of Theoretical Confinement"
Review by Marcelo Silveyra

Ah, the electric guitar is a lovely thing. Not to be confused with teddy bears and cotton candy, mind you. No, the electric guitar is a beautiful creation insofar as it has allowed hundreds of musicians to reach the vast excesses that their minds have created for them, and thus has brought the whole phenomenon of shredding into existence. On second thought, scratch all that. The electric guitar is a very scary thing.

Unless it happens to be in the hands of a certain Ron Jarzombek, that is. Then the aforementioned instrument turns into a thing of precision and dexterity combined with compositional brilliance, the old reckless random tone generator is thrown out the window, and what comes out of the whole shebang actually sounds like an album. But that could already be deduced from Jarzombekís recent solo debut Phhhp!, and big deal anyway; there are already a good handful of guitar players who can churn out an album that isnít all scales and stupid bravado. The real kicker is that Solitarily Speaking Of Solitary Confinement far surpasses its predecessor and puts itself in the same league as Spastic Inkís Ink Complete. For those not in the know, this is a good thing. A very good thing.

What it means, at least partially, is that the album is led by ideas and concepts that generate the tunes themselves. Sound simple? Well, it really isnít. For the sake of simplicity, take "To B Or Not To B," a track built on the premise of playing a theme built only on the note B, with short interruptions consisting of every note except for B; or "Minor Yours," one built entirely on minor chords. Now take forty-five of those tracks and tie them all together. Congratulations, you just imagined the basic premise of Jarzombekís second album. Call it mathematical, call it calculating, call it so complex that the damn thing even uses concepts from SchŲnbergís twelve-tone theory. Whatever you do though, donít call it mechanical, because it is far from it. With the oppressive evil of "Two Thirds Of Satan," the hilarious stiffness of "Rigidude," or the maddeningly catchy call-and-response groove of "Dramatic Chromatic," along with Jarzombekís cartoonish sense of humor present throughout most of the affair, that would simply be insulting.

Instead, do yours truly a favor and call it sheer genius. Sure, the fact that a drum machine is used on it detracts somewhat from the general sound, and the production, despite its clearness, isnít the equal of that of a titanic major label record. Sure, people who think Spastic Ink is too complicated will probably think the same of this. Sure, some people will even get annoyed at the fact that Jarzombek thanks Wal-Mart on the liner notes. Itís really hard to give a damn with an album as good as this. Ink Complete was one of the best, if not the best, albums of 1997. There is no reason to think of Solitarily Speaking Of Theoretical Confinement otherwise, save maybe for the absence of drummer extraordinaire Bobby Jarzombek (ditto for bassist Pete Perez). In fact, what are you doing still sitting there? Go get it!

Rating: 5/5

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