Mike McLatchey 4-November-2002 The Mindworm EP

Remember the guitar solo? The event whose presence seems to be more and more fleeting in these days of post-rock and texture first? It was never the most common element of a symphonic rock album either, but its occasional presence had the ability to help the music transcend the normal, particularly at the right moment. Symphonic rock could perhaps be described as one of the more tired styles moving 30 years past its psychedelic origins, but there are always certain elements that can set one group apart from the masses. One obviously diminishes the potential for originality by performing music entirely within these boundaries, but a strong refinement is usually a good enough draw to overturn skepticism by the most ardent prog collector.

Mindworm is a new Georgia-area quartet whose debut EP, what might even be described as a demo of sorts due to its CD-R format, is one of those symphonic rock groups whose promise is vividly apparent. Heavily influenced by Genesis, from the Peter Gabriel era through the early 80s Collins period, Mindworm might have points taken off by those whose familiarity with the Genesis influence spans years of listening and comparison. Vocalist Kirk Barnes is a dead ringer for Gabriel at times and Collins at others, yet fortunately English is his first language and thus there is little awkwardness at all. But while other groups in the same style tend to clog up the works by too many lyrics, Mindworm already have the balance down picture perfect.

Yes, its the instrumental sections that set the band apart. For minutes at a time, the band will launch into gorgeous vamps, often dominated by the able hand of guitarist Sean Tonar who lavishly erupts into extremely passionate solos at all the right moments (the climax towards the end of "Moving in Moving Out" is breathtaking). And Barnes doesn't only sing, but he also plays all the keys and even gets a solo in or two. The band's instrumental talents are even more pronounced on the EP's closer "Pentatonic Lightning," a piece described as an improvisation while sounding quite composed nevertheless.

Mind you, Mindworm are a band close to the beginning of the process. Production and takes aren't picture perfect, but I doubt perfection was aimed for this early in the game. Undoubtedly the honing process will come in force once the quartet puts out its first professional CD. Which makes the EP all the more exciting, perhaps the most exciting of its type since Azigza released ... whose portals are night and day. Perhaps Mindworm aren't quite at the same place originality-wise, but once you hear the talent here you know such things will be given with time. This is a name you will be hearing from.

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