Under The Sun ‘Schematism’
Jan-Mikael’s EARS: Review: Under The Sun ‘ Schematism’
What is it?
Recorded live in one take during NEARfest (North East Art Rock Festival), this recording is heralded as a ‘live on stage experience’, meaning that the show was recorded, and is to be perceived, from the band’s vantage point. Lustrous packaging provides snapshots of the band on stage and ‘producer’s’ liner notes document the various recording means used to provide this unique sonic perspective.
What it is:
UTS deliver mid-tempo rhythm-driven songs, with stop-start unisons, swirling keyboard/organ textures and dense arrangements. Compositions focus heavily on minor key modulations that seldom stray far from territory mined by 70’s prog stalwarts…take one part Yes, half a teaspoon of Focus, blend with a little ELP, add a healthy dose of Rush, and you’ll have an idea of UTS’s instrumental bent….
Unfortunately, the vocal delivery of chief composer and guitarist Chris Shryack falls short of the mark. He has a limited vocal range, and is at times out of tune, and his oft- atonal lines sound more like guitar riffs than vocal melodies. ‘The Time Being’ is particularly egregious.
As lead singer and sole guitarist, Shryack’s rhythm playing, while competently executed, sounds stilted and terse, as though he was struggling under the dual responsibilities. His lead guitar-work is derivative, and consists largely of hackneyed blues riffs delivered in a frenzied, scattershot manner (the tag solo in ‘Dream Catcher’ is magnificently cringe-inducing).
Superb drumming, excellent bass-work, articulate, expansive keys and a truly pristine mix are not enough to counterbalance the vocal performance.
Rating: 6-/10 (the minus is for the gut-wrenching vocal glissandos on ‘The Time Being’)
Summary: This is one live record that would have benefited from judicious ‘fixes in the mix’….The ‘on-stage experience’ is magnificently captured, but unfortunately the flawed vocal performance is also highlighted, making ‘Schematism’ a difficult listen despite the rest of the band’s admirable performance.