Reviewed: January 2000
Released: 1999, Independant
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
Ron Jarzombek. Does this name sound familiar? It should if you like your music technical! Ron was the guitarist on Watchtower’s second opus “Control and Resistance”, which is probably the most technical thrash album in existence. Ron is also the driving force behind Spastic Ink, who released their debut album in 1997. Titled “Ink Complete”, I would have to say this album is the most technical album I’ve ever heard! So what is “Phhhp!” all about? Well first of all, this is a self-released CDR. So I am not sure if it is even proper to review it. But what the hell! You need to know about this.
“Phhhp!” is a collection of tunes written during Ron’s time in Watchtower. This material was never used for obvious reasons upon listening. This stuff is definitely not thrash. The musical direction on this disc goes all over the place. This is basically “Spastic Ink before Spastic Ink”, to paraphrase Ron. And this 95% instrumental disc is of course very heavily guitar-based, some tracks consisting solely of guitars. The guitar work is completely astonishing, which can only be expected from this master shredder. And all drums on this recording have been programmed by Ron. Now although I hate programmed drums, they are tolerable. Besides, the guitar work is just too damn striking! And what do you expect? This is not a full-bore production! It’s just a compilation of unreleased material, which can almost be considered “demo” material. Plenty of bands use drum programming for demos. Anyhow, the music ranges between speedy mayhem, fret spidering craziness, standard crunching, soft and delicate passages, and grooviness. It’s all here folks! There are lots of similarities to Watchtower, especially the leads. In addition, I wouldn’t say this CD is nearly as aggressive and heavy as Spastik Ink. And I wouldn’t say it is as technical either. But the guitar work is still mindblowing! And the timing of the drums and guitar is pretty amazing at times.
And just like the Spastic Ink album, Ron has written something about each track. This adds humor to the whole package, as some of this stuff is rather funny. Especially “Ants on My Windshield”, which is about Ron being attacked and killed by ants while driving home from a date. Another amusing track is “Oh No, Mr. Kitty!”, the only song with “vocals”. This song sounds like a cartoon (remember “A Wild Hare” off “Ink Complete”?). It is a story of mice against a cat, narrated from a mouse’s perspective. And the narration sounds like Alvin and the Chipmunks to make it sound like a mouse, if you know what I mean.
Do yourself a favor and check out the Spastik Ink web site www.spasticink.com for information on this guitar genius. Although the Watchtower CD and the debut Spastic Ink albums are out of print, I urge you to pick them up if you ever come across them. Ron can also be heard on Gordian Knot’s self-titled debut album. This band is ex-Cynic bassist Sean Malone’s baby and also features ex-Cynic drummer Sean Reinert, as well as other guest appearances. Check out the Spastik Ink web site above for information on “Phhhp!” as well as the forthcoming Spastic Ink album “Ink Compatible”. All metal fans should hear Ron’s guitar playing.
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