7D Media 2023
If the piper can’t lead us to reason, Chicagoan twelve-stringer will color the rhyme.
The story of The Rat-Catcher from Hamelin is a grim one, the tale in which children fall victim to a strife between adults without even a slightest thought from conflicting parties – and it’s this part that Illinoisan Jason Blake has set off to remedy on his most fantasy-filled album to date. While the guitarist’s previous oeuvre, sculpted both solo and with AZIOLA CRY, saw him explore sci-fi macrocosm, “Subsequent Ruins” focuses on an immature inner world of today’s suffering younglings – who, in the musician’s view, are being led to the abyss through their dependence on mobile phones. Here’s the reason why the disturbing images in the disc’s booklet, painted by Hajo Mueller and bookended with “Something found… Someone missed” taglines, should look and feel like a lost artbook of one of these kids, and why the platter’s tunes and tones feel so compassionate, so alluring and so captivating.
Covering wide sonic spectrum with his Warr contraption, Blake doesn’t require any external input to expand this richly-colored palette, although Marco Minnemann’s imaginative patterns more than merely accentuate Jason’s instrumental designs that, despite such highbrow titles as “Obsolete Perception” – which, actually, dictate the angle of the listener’s perspective – offer the finest melodic filigree, woven from heavy riffs, hypnotic grooves and crystalline lines. So while there’s tumult to the grandiose swirl of “Pretense Of The Herd” where strings, edging their solemn passages into a synthesizer’s range, arrange a trap for those in awe of spiritual art, there’s also dynamic lapses in the stygian canvas to keep the audience enchanted, especially when the intricate layers of delay on the cavernous “Follow I (Emanated Hook)” come into play. The same drift will become muscular to render “False Streets Of Entanglement” much punchier and reroute the initial impact towards cosmic meandering, before “Follow II (The Coercible Leash)” begins to twang in style – first cautiously and then decisively, if delicately – contrasting the epic onslaught of “A Bleak Outcome”: the album’s hectic, chthonic, often feverish finale whose rhythmic dances are ones of joyless deliverance.
Still, for all the pyrrhic character of the freedom in the heart of “Subsequent Ruins” – suggesting shallowness of souls – it’s still a victory for Jason Blake. Creating wonder out of drama is a winning formula, after all.