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Concentrick - Aluminum Lake

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Artist: Concentrick

Album: Aluminum Lake

Label: Drag City

Review date: Aug. 28, 2007

His onstage demeanor a dogged deadpan, The (Fucking) C4AM95’s guitarist Tim Green doesn’t look like the kind of guy who you could easily approach after a set with a congratulatory high five or pat on the back. He’s always appeared the anchor, the foil to Josh Smith (or Phil Manley) with the odd hair shake or tasteful knee drop. “Guys, shut up,” he seems to say, “school project’s tomorrow, we gotta get this right!”

Maybe Green spent all his kineticism on Nation of Ulysses. Apart from his more recent endeavors in front of and behind the mixing console of a recording studio, he’s made solo recordings under the title Concentrick. Solo projects tend to push off in some vector, away from works the artist is known for in a fairly determined display of force, no matter what the direction of focus. Concentrick’s fourth album, Aluminum Lake, remains determined to stray from that rule, trying to stay Bixby long enough for Ferrigno to stop knocking so intently at the front door of his mind.

Aiming for the sort of professional virtuosity that propelled such classics as Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Alien or a Stu Hamm bass instruction video, Aluminum Lake dines out on its deliberate, chart-perfect delivery of chops and levity. Even in its quieter, folk-based moments, Green always insists on filling bigger shoes than those needed to make compelling instrumental art rock. Just three songs into the record, Green decides to kick up a more resonant cloud of dust in some big sky metal (“White Bear”), its last minute surging forth with the sort of stainless steel determinacy you’d expect from a guy who can’t seem to look at music with any sort of detachment. Green’s soloing stays roped in, wiggling as much as it can in its stocks.

At their dirtiest, the stately “Sacred Truth” and the stormy “Divine Wind” absorb some of the bass and guitar particles from Damon Che’s bipolar Van Halen tribute Thee Speaking Canaries, or arena-avant-rock-dub trio Blind Idiot God. But those bands know something about how irony operates, be it loading a Metallican array of amps into a tiny rock club, or acting too frustrated to finish a song. Green continues to hold his poker face, even so far as to bring in drummer Jon Theodore (The Mars Volta, Golden, Royal Trux) and bassist Seth Lorinczi (Circus Lupus), guys who have the ability to take off, and have them play relatively straight, understated backing rhythms. Flute- and synth-driven tracks give off the appeal of a young Brian Eno, but pile up listlessly against the longer, heavier songs in the album’s middle.

There’s a competency here that is remarkable, the kind you’d expect from studio musicians. Personality isn’t exactly oozing out the sides; instead, it’s as if someone took prog, NWOBHM, and early ambient synth and threw them in a rock tumbler to knock loose any rough edges from their frames. If you polish a seamless object enough, it will shine, but that’s about all it will do.

By Doug Mosurock

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