At War With Self’s ‘Torn Between Dimensions’
Jan-Mikael’s EARS: review: At War With Self’s ‘Torn Between Dimensions’
What is it?
At War With Self is the creation of Glen Snelwar, erstwhile member of Gordian Knot (Sean Malone, ex-Cynic) and friends. Bassist Michael Manring (Steve Morse, Michael Hedges et al) and drummer Mark Zonder (ex-Fates Warning) lend their expertise, and Travis Smith contributes suitably arcane artwork in anticipation of the instrumental hauteur resulting from the hyped meeting of these progressive rock paragons, presenting a journey into the depths of mental conflicts amidst a musical maelstrom…
What it is:
Glen Snelwar’s compositions are on display here, more so than his technical prowess as a guitarist. He has chops, and uses them, but always in the service of the song. Manring and Zonder both play with fire and intent, but remain subservient to Snelwar’s vision.
The result is an engaging, complex set of musical atmospheres that draw the listener in…there are technical odd metered sections, and passages that demonstrate how demanding this music must have been to record, and each player has ample room to flex his musical muscle, but ultimately this is music…not merely a vehicle for fleet-fingered flagellation.
My only criticism of ‘Torn Between Dimensions’ is that none of the pieces presented here have a signature motif, melody or hook…an important aspect of instrumental music…there are recurring melodic and harmonic progressions, but nothing to immediately differentiate between the songs or to engage the listener memorably. Rhythmically and compositionally there is thematic unity, but I longed for something to latch onto…bottom line, instrumental music must have a discernible melody. Complexity and heaviness are not enough to sustain instrumental music on their own merits…there has to be something in the ‘musical vernacular’ for the listener…not everyone can or even wants to experience musicianship at this level as the focal point of the experience…
Rating: 8+/10 (the plus is for the creative use of acoustic instruments, subtle synth-orchestral flourishes, and the plethora of different textures closer examination reveals throughout. Extra credit for the mix…Manring’s basslines add a sleek underpinning to the entire disc and Zonder’s musical drumming and Manring’s fretless are beautifully recorded.
Music that is fractal in nature must have a point…