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Posted by Rob Johnson ((Music))

Upon A Painted Ocean lp
Rob Johnson
You don’t have to be a simpleton on a bench to know that this instrumental opus from Rob Johnson is like a box of chocolates. And posh ones, at that. You really don’t know what you’re gonna get as ‘Upon A Painted Ocean’ plays out over a wide canvas with a bewildering array of classy moods. And, like a box of chocolate, the end result is rich, indulgent and you’re left feeling a bit sticky. Luckily though, there’s no musical equivalent of a Coffee Cream to put you off.

Salisbury moodscaper Rob is clearly a master of many instruments, but the lead voice across the album is that of the guitar. Every kind of guitar. Played in every kind of way. It all kicks off with a busy blanket of electric and acoustic noodling on “Point The Gun And Pull The Trigger”, before hinting at the cavalcade to come with the Steely Dan jazz-meets-flameno of “Monster Eats The Pilot.”

“555-0134” is huddled in waves of static, whereas “Cloak + Dagger” and “in Cahoots” make for a pristine contrast with delicate blues licks that bring to mind the clinical virtuosity of those early Dire Straits albums. The ones before the sweatband. There’s not a moment’s complacency, though, as “…End Credits” and “Milo’s Revenge” bring in some big dancey bass, “Bipolar” rattles with Led Zep dramatics and the brilliantly-named “Maimed Titles” veers between flighty folk and grinding Judas Priest metal like an inebriated ice skater. Putting the mental into instrumental.

While it all hangs together well – and Rob dresses everything in a silky smoking jacket of polished production - some of he best moments come from the simpler ideas. Notably, the stripped-back acoustic romance of “Hello Magda” and the heartbroken vibe of “Amy G. Dala.” On the latter, a deadpan American voice tells us “I am a wreck now that she is below deck.” The robotic delivery feels all the more destitute for being set against a fluttery summer vibe. ‘Upon A Painted Ocean’ shows Rob Johnson can make marvels on the guitar, but it’s when he explores other sounds as well that things really start to sizzle.

by Overplay