Roy Leonard Herman 2019
From New York City to California and per aspera ad astra, veteran artist navigates nebulae but gets lost along the way.
Emerging from the interstellar furrow he’s been ploughing for the last 25 years, Roy Herman is firing on all cylinders now, with a couple of simultaneous releases: voiceless opus "How Do We Get To Earth?" and this EP where his songwriter skills are applied to a handful of pieces which don’t quite live up to the Uncle’s talent as guitarist. Despite its high goals, “Save The Universe” is so lo-fi and sci-fi that, if it was laid down five decades earlier, the mini-album would be a cult classic today yet, as one of the cuts posits, it doesn’t really matter – because even though the artist’s vocals are, more often than not, buried within instrumental layers, transpiring melodies fail to impress and pull the record out of aural morass.
There’s lysergic bliss in “Cosmic Happiness” whose ever-changing gears add to the overall confusion and even righteous rocking can’t keep it all in check, while “The Isle Of Riff On The World Of Tone” – though less experimental as such a title seems to suggest – has histrionics and hysteria reined in to reveal something akin to heavy pop. When an arrangement is minimal, like on “A World Of Miracles” that’s effervescent and sparse at the same time, the flow is alluring, and when the approach is playful, like on “Father Time” that could make a nice carol, the results feel rather arresting, without warranty of many subsequent spins. Should Herman stick to dance groove of “It Doesn’t Really Matter” – easily the best track here – he will find his voice; otherwise, Roy will drift too far from the orbit in search of space.