Born Free Then Caged 2018
Lap steel going mental to harness six-string instrumental delirium ans reinvent the metal wheel.
Languid: that would be the regular mode for a lap steel guitar – yet, having mastered it, Sean Williamson doesn’t see any reason to restrict what his instrument can do to country, and this album finds the Milwaukeean in a heavy metal mode which is, with tongue firmly in cheek, defined as slidecore. Thus, the Velocihamster moniker mustn’t suggest there’s futile grind to the newfangled genre, as such a blistering six-pack of a record – wrapped in a brilliant tin-foil cover – where every track has a one-word title for better impact, is purposefully and defiantly mercurial.
Instead of grind, there’s playfulness in the harmonic clusters that take “Roar” for a delirious swirl only to slow the dance down to a bluesy twang and, yes, a shredded assault – full of delicious filigree and grace – while the ghosts of bluegrass lurk in “Claw” which may be the best demonstration of the artist’s varied technical approach, as ska and punk also seem to rear their heads here. More seriously, the predatory scratch of “Prey” sees a streamlined meander spiked with frenzied groove directing the cut’s riff-laden drift toward tasty rawness and progressive glissandi – only to make strings stumble on such a glacial surface and tremble anxiously – but “1.O.T.D.” finds its festive funereal march stricken with distorted growl and Celtic tune.
And if “Bait” – whose melodic figures are sparsely patterned – is the most stark piece on display, with thick layers of notes dissolving to reveal dewdrop picking and gathering into gilded splinters once again, it’s “Bath” that unfolds a panorama of the guitarist’s cinematic abilities and scope of thought and throbs most impressively to wrap the listener in a swirling, slightly psychedelic cocoon, a launch pad for interstellar mindwarp. In an age when originality is rare, a trip like this is bound to amount to revelation.