Sbar Noesis, The Rob - Wagon Wheels And Atom Bombs

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Aggregate Recordings
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 43:37:00

Ah, the good old guitar. No other instrument has enslaved so many teenagers eager to emulate their six-string heroes, finally make air pantomimes a thing of the past, and hopefully get laid aplenty. And out of the thousands who pick it up and practice in hopes of getting good one day, a good bunch turn into what modern lexicon has dubbed "shredders," otherwise known to common people as kids who had too much free time on their hands, and who spent too much of it practicing scales on the guitar. And it just so happens that "too much" is an adequate description for what generally is a group of musicians who can play scales and licks with a speed that would leave Mercury himself ape-jawed, but who generally sacrifice all musicality in the process and thus end up appealing to a much-reduced group of people.

Enough about shredders, now more about Rob Sbar. A musician with a well-rounded educational background in music, lightning-quick fingers, and an obvious taste for professionalism (as the layout for Wagon Wheels And Atom Bombs attests to), Sbar presents the listener with an instrumental concept album and a nicely diverse mixture of styles that run the gamut from jazz to grooving metal. The range is still concise, however, so that there are no jarring discrepancies across the album. As for the avant-garde level of Sbar's music, it is not half as far out there as some people would have you believe. There is a fair share of dissonance on it, but most of it is quite safe by jazz standards, and even the harshest moments on the album are still miles away from a genre like RIO (not to mention the work of someone like classical milestone Arnold Schoenberg, without going further into the twentieth century). Once again, however, I am digressing. Back to the matter at hand with an apology to my three loyal readers out there.

If you are able to piece together the fact that one and one make two, you probably have figured out the fact that Sbar is a guitarist who fits the shredder category. So is this new contestant destined for a breakthrough to greater audiences, or a permanency slot in the reduced market for guitar wizardry? Unfortunately, the latter seems like the most likely option. While Sbar's licks and dexterous fluidity will undoubtedly get a bunch of teenagers hard at work with their metronomes and their instructional videos, they are also too devoid of structure and taste to really come across as anything more than a race of notes that starts as soon as the gun goes off and then rarely stops. A shame considering the fact that some of the background harmonies going on are actually quite good, along with some fragments in which everything goes perfectly smoothly. In fact "Lexical Gap" has some interesting harmonizations of a groovy motive that drives the track home incredibly well, and "16 Shades Of Gray" continues the favorable impression by alternating between jazzy chord voicings and fun metallic grooves.

By the time "Diet Soda, Chinese Food And A Single Yellow Daisy" reaches its end, however, things pretty much fall apart. Almost every single time that Sbar takes off soloing, the listener becomes immediately detached from the music as flurries of notes fly by aimlessly and sharply detract from the impact of what is going on behind them. Moreover, the effect of this is cumulative, so that with each passing track one further loses interest in what's going on and is ultimately left with a jumbled confusion that forces one to pretty much ignore things after a while. To be fair, however, every track on the album does have its share of moments, and were Wagon Wheels And Atom Bombs to be judged on the first four or five of them, it would fare off quite better. In the end though, it is as an entire work that the record must be considered, and as such it stands as yet another display of dazzling technicality that sadly has all the potential right there, but never really seems to exploit it.

Wagon Wheels And Atom Bombs (Introduction ? excerpt) (0:18) / Lexical Gap (4:21) / I Woke Up This Morning With This Human Skin On ? And I Can't Seem To Get It off (4:13) / 16 Shades Of Gray (4:30) / Drowning In A Vacuum (Of Barbed Wire Solitude) (5:41) / Media-Induced Paranoia (5:30) / Blue Harvest (7:28) / Diet Soda, Chinese Food And A Single Yellow Daisy (10:46) / Wagon Wheels And Atom Bombs (Reprise ? excerpt) (0:39)

Rob Sbar - guitars
Erik Feder - drums, percussion, glockenspiel, xylophone
Matt Schaefer - bass

Additional Contributors and Credits:

Tony Gairo - tenor sax, flute
Duane Eubanks - trumpet
Aino Soderhielm - alto sax
Laurie Nagle - alto sax
Bill Wenglicki - clarinet, baritone sax
Mark Shewchuk - drums
Andy Pfaff - bass
Daniel Mintseris - piano
Jason Elliott - tenor sax
Rob Mislivers - alto sax

Wagon Wheels And Atom Bombs (2002)

Genre: Various Genres

Origin US

Added: March 24th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 933
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]