Thomas White - The Maximalist
Remember The Electric Soft Parade? Well, they were the creation of the brothers White and I, for one, felt they never got enough credit for their material. They fizzled out after three albums but had already metamorphosised into Brakes, who were essentially the same duo, but with a harder punk edge to them and achieved even less recognition but, as far as I can tell, are still trundling along.
In the meantime, Thomas White has been dabbling with various side projects, including a stint with Patrick Wolf, and a debut solo album a couple of years ago that slipped under the radar. Enter Cooking Vinyl and here we have solo album number two from the multi-instrumentalist and it sure is one salvo of musical clatterings. For the most part, the album is very experimental, with some awkward structures and long instrumental stretches, making it very difficult to digest. From the sparcety and grandeur of Jerusalem Thorn to the electronic disarray of Moonlight And Snow and then the opus The Weekend, seven and a half minutes of back to back intros. Suddenly the ESP seems an age away. Synapse Galaxy has a greater sense of jollity about it, although ends up being The Go! Team but with all the fun extruded. The moments that stand out are when he adopts a more simplistic approach on songs like A Bitter Pill and Look At Them, both are unremarkable songs but take a heavier pop leaning and are all the better for it.
You see, the problem here is that White seems to be trying far too hard to achieve non-conformity and possesses a will to escape comparison. His abilities are proven but this venture does him a disservice, for the diversity and utter confusion blurs the finished product. The set closes, somewhat appropriately, with …Lost, seven minutes of preamble that fizzles into whimpering oblivion; it barks loudly but never threatens to get its teeth out. At best it's a shame, at worst a travesty, for expectations would surely have been much higher. Maybe we should hope for this being a cleaning out of the closet prior to a revisit to those inspirational ESP days but somehow I feel such hope may be misplaced!