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Matthew O'Neill - Trophic Cascade

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Now, I don't listen to a whole lot of Americana, so I'm not going to pretend to know much about the genre or its background. Instead I'll just give you my thoughts on the new record from New York's Matthew O'Neill straight, the thoughts of someone from Glasgow with a preference for math-rock.

Trophic Cascade is the name of that record, and its also an ecological concept (look it up, if you want). It consists of 14 tracks, which each track being built in some part on a foundation of twinkling guitars. There's a spectrum of flavour on offer here, like an enticing ice cream parlour or intriguing packet of jelly beans.

Proceedings begin with the emphatic tones of 'Bridge Builder', setting the energy bar high from the outset, something which is definitely not adhered to. The reflective style of 'Golden Boy' kills this pace immediately and offers the listener some time with their thoughts, an atmosphere continued on the piano-tinged 'Ain't No Way'.

By contrast, 'Louisiana' possesses a considerable amount of swagger and the feel and vocal harmonies of 'Stand Tall' make it one of the record's undeniable highlights. Switching things up once again in this album of variety is '1000 Years' which introduces a jarring but welcome droning sound to the mix, and a healthy dose of musical drama.

'Alzheimer's Blues' and 'Breakstride' possess the most flare of the record as they progress as a jaunty pace, with the former being laced with some enticed blues guitar licks amidst the relatively subdued nature of the record as a whole. Things reach a wild and passionate peak on penultimate track 'Tunkashila', before closer 'Relaunching' finishes off Trophic Cascade with a sweeping and emotional track.

Clocking in at just under 50 minutes, this 14 track collection is something of a hit-and-miss mish-mash of compositions. For each peak there's a trough, and whilst a non-stop sitting may seem arduous given the constant changing of pace, dipping in and out is likely the most rewarding approach to enjoy this eclectic record. 

Trophic Cascade is available from Amazon and iTunes.

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