Apparently, the name Spastic Ink came about because much of this album was written through the mail.
Released 1997 on Mr Kitty (I think)
Ron Jarzombek - Guitars
Pete Perez - Bass
Bobby Jarzombek - Drums
Now, if any of you read my review of Ron Jarzombek's [url=http://www.musicianforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=205700]Solitarily Speaking of Theoretical Confinement
[/url], I'd first like to stress that Ink Complete
is the superior album. Solitarily Speaking..
is a very conceptual album, and I gave the 5/5 as much for the scale of the idea behind it, and the work and humour put into it, as anything else. Based on musical enjoyment, it would be a 4/5, or maybe just below.
, on the other hand, whilst similarly technical, has "proper" songs (albeit still without vocals) rather than many short bits strung together. One of the main differences is the level of musicianship outside of the guitar - Ron Jarzombek still shows his huge amounts of skill with the guitar, but his brother Bobby, and Pete Perez, on drums and bass repectively, up the quality on their instruments. I found it quite easy, after a few listens, to stop analysing the music and just enjoy the melodies and solos, but I don't know if others will be able to. Despite being instrumental, almost every song has a theme. So, ignore the technicality if you want, and just listen.
The Mad Data Race
is a great opener, as it really showcases what's coming in a nutshell. The quick tempo changes and lightning fast melody runs give it a very stop-start feel, which is representative of the computer theme hinted at in the title (which I think they went a bit far with on their second album, Ink Compatible
, but that's another story). Yes, it is very indulgent in terms of overt technicality, but it maintains it's melody throughout, and never becomes just a mass of boring but skilful playing.
To Counter and Groove in E Minor
is a good track to start with if you're new to the band, or to the style of music. It is an attempt to use classical guitar counterpoint and melodies combined with a danceable groove, and as such can be a window into the band, a starting point. It was for me. I don't know about danceable (I don't dance), but it's certainly one of the most memorable (in a humming the many melodies throughout your day way) songs on here. With enough listens, it becomes addictive, and it's certainly one of my favourite tracks, if nothing else.
Mosquito Brain Surgery
is the second longest track on the album, and one of the most difficult to listen to initially. It wasn't written all at once - it was begun early in the writing process, and had extra bits written and incorporated into it throughout recording, the result being that it ended up longer and more complex than the band had originally intended, "becoming to us some sort of mentally deranged medical procedure", hence the strange title. It's one of the least happy-sounding songs on the album as well, which put me off somewhat when first listening to it.
Two tracks in particular deserve special mention; A Morning With Squeakie
and A Wild Hare
tells the story of a squirrel called Squeakie, as he wakes up, searches for breakfast and is attacked by a dog (which is repelled using his breakfast). Despite the lack of vocals, the stop-start rhythms and melodies get across the image of Squeakie hopping and scurrying around surprisingly well, however weird that sounds.
A Wild Hare
is something else entirely though. The longest (real) track on the album, it is based on a scene from "an animation classic released in 1942" - Bambi. The scene in question is one with Thumper, though I'm not sure which (I think it is one form near the start). Anyway, the band (maybe just Ron, I'm not sure) spent hours transcribing the entire scene's original orchestral score (including violins, violas, cellos, flutes, piccolos, clarinets, oboes, bassoons, harp, percussion/timpani and lightning effects) to music for guitar, drums and bass. Also transcribed was the dialogue of the hare (accurate down to pitch and timing, and including coughs, inarticulate noises and throat clearings). If there was no rhythm or chord apparent to be transcribed, they added something of their own until something popped up again. On it's own, this is an achievement on par with anything on Solitarily Speaking..
, and is much more enjoyable to listen to, as well (it was designed to score a Disney film, after all).
Before I finish, I want to say something about Bobby Jarzombek. He's a really impressive drummer - up there with Flo Mournier and Sean Reinert, in my opinion. He doesn't take centre stage on many tracks, but his speed is comparable to both the aforementioned drummers, and his agility comparable to Reinert, and his drumming is always skilful and complementary to whatever is going on. He has an advantage in this respect, having played with both his brother (naturally) and Perez (in Riot) for many years, and as such is adept at playing with both of them. The exception to his background position is Harm and Half-time Baking Shuffle
, for which his drumming is the main focus. It even has an excellent drum solo, which is a rarity - as I'm not a drummer, it's hard to keep me interested in drum solos, but this is a good one.
Anyway, there's a brief summary of what I think are the more notable tracks on the album, though the others are all good as well.