If you don't know the name Ron Jarzombek yet, you should. He played guitar in the seminal metal band WatchTower, whose Control and Resistance album from 1989 was recently lauded by Guitar World magazine as one of the top ten shred albums of the Eighties – calling it a "twisted scion of Metallica and The Mahavishnu Orchestra." He appeared on Gordian Knot's self-titled debut with members of Cynic, King Crimson and Dream Theater. And he recorded under the name Spastic Ink with a band that included such respected players as keyboardist Jens Johansson (Stratovarius), bassists Michael Manring (Michael Hedges, Attention Deficit, McGill/Manring/Stevens) and Ray Riendeau (Halford), drummer Dave Penna (Amphibians From Outer Space) and WatchTower singer Jason McMaster.
Now Jarzombek follows up his 1999 solo album, PHHHP!, with the intriguingly titled and highly technical Solitarily Speaking of Theoretical Confinement – a bizarre solo album (more or less) divided into 45 seamless sonic snippets that range in length from four seconds to two minutes and 46 seconds. The man plays bass and guitar, and he covers a lot of musical ground by touching on a variety of rock and metal styles but sounding most similar to Steve Vai. His expressive playing is augmented by his creative track titles ("I've Got the Runs," "Sex With Squeakie" and "At the Stop-N-Go") and explanatory liner notes that read like good porn for serious guitar players. There's even a 14-second track called "WatchTower," a thick and chunky tribute to his old band -- which, by the way, is reportedly in the studio.
Solitarily Speaking of Theoretical Confinement is one of the better instrumental CDs to cross my desk lately – not only for its skilled musicianship, but also for its sense of completion. This does not "feel" like a solo guitar album – and that, Mr. Jarzombek, is a credit to your musical prowess.