Douglas McCombs - VMAK KOMBZ DUGLAS 6NDR7 Music Album Reviews

Douglas McCombs - VMAK<KOMBZ<<<DUGLAS<<6NDR7<<< Music Album Reviews
The longtime Tortoise bassist picks up lead guitar on his solo debut, a wayward instrumental expedition with a poker-faced sense of humor.

Douglas McCombs has spent much of his career crafting shapes in the shadows of his music, even on projects where he’s been a leader. As the longtime bassist of Tortoise and Eleventh Dream Day, as well as the face of his rotating-collaborator vehicle Brokeback and one-third of his new trio Black Duck alongside Charles Rumback and Bill MacKay, the bassist and guitarist specializes in pulling fundamental strings while generally lingering outside the foreground. On his first solo album under his own name, VMAK<KOMBZ<<<DUGLAS<<6NDR7>>> (its busy title was pulled from one of McCombs’ many international visas), he steps into that foreground with a wayward instrumental expedition that sacrifices none of the string-pulling.

VMAK doesn’t fall into any typical solo-debut buckets. It’s no grand, renewed statement of purpose, nor a stripped-down, personally revealing dispatch from the heart. It doesn’t sound painstakingly composed; it’s completely instrumental with a fair share of improvisation; and it features friends who have collaborated plenty with McCombs over the years, including Sam Prekop of The Sea and Cake (for whom McCombs has toured as bassist) and James Elkington. In its spontaneous spirit, if not always its sound, VMAK slots comfortably alongside most of McCombs’ catalog.

Where VMAK stands apart is in how it isolates and magnifies McCombs, who mostly sticks to lead guitar here. He steps into this role like a head chef with the whole kitchen to himself, eager to play around and experiment, but also to refine. VMAK is three tracks long—the first and last account for over 30 of the album’s 34 minutes—but feels more like five or six distinct ideas. He cooks up something sweet, something bitter, something bland but curious. The point isn’t to be instantly, familiarly appetizing, but McCombs makes sure to include a couple of immediately delicious bites in between the less savory, just-trying-stuff ones.

Like any courteous host, McCombs gives fair warning with the very first notes on his electric. He barges into opener “Two to Coolness” with a distorted belch of guitar squall, and away we go. There’s some deliberate humor to his greeting, yet you picture him performing it stone-faced; for McCombs, heedlessness in the creative process can be the spice of life. He blends the noise into some inspired ambling that finds space between a 1980s cop drama and a peaceful solo writing session in an empty garage. As Prekop and Calexico’s John Convertino—on modular sequencer and drums, respectively—join for some staggered, lurching tip-toes over the melodic final few minutes, the track’s tone completes a full about-face. McCombs’ love for distractions and pivots then finds a fresh outlet in the short and sweet, morning-dew acoustic guitar solo of the second track, “Green Crown’s Step,” which strolls with gentle confidence and little predictability to its route.

McCombs likes to manipulate time and pacing like this, in addition to tones and moods, and he takes it furthest on closer “To Whose Falls Shallows.” Here, an extra-long buildup of sparse, dull solo notes over faint drones breaks into an irresistibly warm and panoramic groove, where the album comes to a rest. While McCombs mimics feeling around in the dark for the song’s first two-thirds, Elkington sneaks onto his drum kit and ever so gradually raises the lights until the players arrive at the finale, where McCombs patiently climbs some arpeggios in triplets while Elkington casually keeps him to a beat and adds some just-right percussive accents. As McCombs completes his solo explorations on VMAK, the music carries him back to his long-perfected sweet spot: as a critical cog in a machine of guitar-centered magic, reading the room for just the right moments.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Douglas McCombs - VMAK KOMBZ DUGLAS 6NDR7 Music Album Reviews Douglas McCombs - VMAK KOMBZ DUGLAS 6NDR7 Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on December 20, 2022 Rating: 5


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