On his new two-disc release, Computerchemist (aka Dave Pearson) tries an interesting strategy. He gave drummer Zsolt Galántai sets of time signatures to follow, then had Galántai improvise what were essentially long solos. Pearson then went back in and, in tried-and-true Computerchemist fashion, attacked them with the dual weapons of progressive rock and Berlin school concepts. The outcome is a long stretch of fiery, flaring, feel-good tunes that will have you turning up the volume. I will gladly confess to being a huge shill for Pearson’s guitar playing. It’s inspired and passionate and howls with a classic rock ‘n’ roll lack of restraint. These discs give plenty of that, particularly the second. “Strangeness in 13” kicks off that disc with Pearson grinding out soulful solos while a piano slyly offers up whispers of the beginning of Tubular Bells. This leads straight into “Goodbye, Moszkva Tér,” which is essentially Pearson and Galántai strapping you into a chair and pumping a constant stream of high-grade art-rock adrenalin straight into your veins. Then the man gets downright aggressive with his axe, strangling screaming banshee wails out of it for “Floor Zero.” Meaty keyboard chords fill in the background. On the first disc, Pearson hits the guitar mark when he revisits an old track in “Landform 2012.” This is a perfect blend of guitar and sequencer, Pearson holding long, soaring notes heavy on the reverb. Pure, gorgeous Berlin. “Zsoltimatic” is another nice guitar track with a bluesy edge.
The other element to Signatures is Pearson’s spot-on sequencer work. He lays down neat geometric patterns for the drums and guitar to flow over, their stringent borders just able to contain the energy. Analog lovers will eat them up in all their T-Dream-influenced glory. (Here, we go back to “Zsoltimatic” and its followup, “Corporatosaur,” as prime examples.)
It must be said that, to some degree, Signatures is a Must-Love-Drums offering. They’re here, they’re big and full of fills and flare, and Pearson doesn’t relegate them to the back seat. Which means, admittedly, that sometimes they take over and the two sides of the equation feel like they don’t entirely align. It becomes more like a game of catch the drummer. I like the playful charm that runs through “Broken Daliuette,” for example, which starts off with a feel like a lost Oldfield track, one of those pieces that meanders around an old folk dance. (Excuse the two MO references in one review.) But when Galántai hits the scene, it feels like the drums are vying for an undue amount of attention attention. The closing couple of minutes, where Pearson comes more in line with the framework of Galántai’s staccato attack, work better. These just-off-kilter moments are far more the exception than the rule on the Signatures discs, but with the drums given so much prominence, it stands out a bit when it happens. When everything comes in line, however, as it does in most cases here, it creates huge, exhilarating, face-melting gobs of prog-fueled joy. Come and get it.
Available from the Computerchemist web site.