See Into Your Soul
Tim Reynolds has been releasing his unique brand of acoustic instrumental music for more than a decade, but only came to national attention as the unofficial sixth member of the Dave Matthews Band. In fact, had Matthews not opted to tour as a duo with the guitarist and release a CD from that tour (last year's "Live at Luther College"), Reynolds would probably be about as recognizable as whoever plays bass or drums for DMB. With the release of "See Into Your Soul," Reynolds is undoubtedly attempting to cash in on his newfound fame, but only proves that his reputation as a non-entity is deserved. "Soul" is an all-acoustic, instrumental work, which is great if listening to an hour of so-so acoustic strum and twang is your bag, but for the rest of us, it's a trip into the heart of musical Hades. Fans of DMB, who display a profound ability to stomach endless amounts of hippie noodling, probably won't even be able to trod through this musical muck. The opening number, "Is Anybody Here?" sounds like a six-minute version of Van Halen's "Spanish Fly," a finger-tapping acoustic solo number from the band's second album. The mercifully under-two-minute "Frantic" attempts to pick up where DMB leaves off, but ends up losing the plot hopelessly. The oh-so-delicate plucking of "To Touch Yearning" is utterly indistinguishable from the Spanish Harlem nightmare of "Jemez Rolling Waves." With pretentious song titles such as "Instead of Thinking, the Seal Barked" and "Rheginos and the Resurrection," and a canon containing more noodling than a spaghetti factory, Reynolds should be on his knees, thanking the musical gods for his day job.
Wichita-based musician Gooding produces ambient soundscapes and electronic ecstasy on his latest release "3X." Gooding is a one-man musical army writing, producing and mixing everything himself. Blending crunked-out trash-can beats, funk-fried guitar riffage, low-end theory bass and ambient samples and synthesized loops, Gooding brings the noise on fiery tracks such as "Licorice and Grape Kool-Aid" as well as low-key hummers like "Upper Level Disturbance." More ambitious than your average electronica-coding number-cruncher, Gooding manages to squeeze real emotion in between the musical lines of his mellow gold grooves, managing to sound not unlike some of Beck's more experimental works. The one thing missing, though, is a vocalist to place Gooding's beats in context. "3X" is a mostly instrumental work, with only a few snippets of vocals implanted in the mix. It's a double-edged sword. On one hand, the no-singer approach means that Gooding puts a great deal of energy into creating some truly memorable music and generally pulls it off with panache. On the other hand, there are times when the music meshes together indistinctly, and one can't help thinking that a vocalist would put a greater focus on the songs and give less attention to heavily spotlighted beats. Though some will be put off by the lack of vocals, for those looking to get their groove on, Gooding is certainly all that and more.