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Nomadic: 4

Operating as a progressive, mainly instrumental trio, Chicago's Nomadic wanted to add another side to their sound while avoiding the more expected routes. The fourth element brought to Tom Heslin's bass and synths, Eric Gulbransen's guitars and Henry Jansen's drums was the violin of Chuck Bontrager. With Heslin also taking on a more prominent vocal role, the foursome set about recording their four track debut EP called, yes, you guessed it… 4!

The addition of Bontrager is an inspired move, his seven string violin hitting hard through a full blown guitar rig and more than capable of taking on Gulbransen's six string axe in a head to head soloing battle during "Carry On". The song itself hits hard through some strident riffs where the distinction between guitar and violin becomes intentionally blurred, the rich textures the two elements provide meshing in a way you might not expect. With the two instruments again trading licks and lines as "Nomads" wordlessly plays out, the manner in which they lock together really is impressive. This is no gimmick, instead it's full integration. However, with Heslin also punching through with some roaming bass work and synth splashes and Jansen sat squarely between dextrous fills and rock solid time machine, what is most apparent is just how neatly all the different aspects of the Nomadic sound click together.

That sound is often based in the 80s era Rush outlook of melody and precision but here there's a tougher edge and I'd suggest that those who would have loved to hear Alex Lifeson's guitar get a stronger look-in during those Rush years, might discover here what could have been. Vocally Heslin keeps it reasonably simple, his delivery giving a more traditional prog edge, which in places brings Euan Lowson of Pallas to mind. His ability to provide what the songs need without ever stealing the spotlight allowing the excellent "Confusion" and "The Take" to satisfy those looking for instrumental technique, or anyone of a more song based predilection.

As debuts go 4 is a short, impressive, involving blast of accessible prog that happily reminds of a few other bands while genuinely offering something a little different. And it gets better the more you hear it.

The only score possible for this EP? It has to be 4, of course!

Track Listing
1. The Take
2. Carry On
3. Nomads
4. Confusion

Added: July 22nd 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Nomadic at bandcamp
Hits: 1714
Language: english

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