Scott Reeder. Now where have I heard that name before? The answer, unfortunately, for much of the American, music-buying public may end up being: "Oh yeah, he was one of those bass players in the Metallica documentary for about two and a half seconds." For those not in the know, here's your Scott Reeder primer. Read it, then go out and buy his aptly named new solo record, TunnelVision Brilliance.
Reeder has played with some of the most influential underground bands in metal including the Obsessed alongside Scott "Wino" Weinrich, and the great grand pappys of Queens of the Stone Age-Kyuss. These bands basically helped underground heavy music to become the slow rumbling behemoth it is. He also plays with Unida when they manage to play, and tours occasionally with Nebula. Add to that producing the best albums bands like Orange Goblin and Sixty Watt Shaman have made and you have a guy who knows his way around the Rock. Not convinced? Let's face it, if you've never heard of any of the above mentioned bands, you're not reading this, so let's move on.
The solo album has always been something of a pinless hand grenade in Rock and Roll. They range from the self-indulgent to sublime and rarely manage to rest in any sort of middle ground. Plus, they're always a threat to take your hand off if they don't come out just right. On the one hand you have ridiculous tripe like Scott Stapp's steaming pile and on the other you have fully-realized works of intimate creativity like those produced in recent years by Chris Robinson and Erik Larson. Reeder's solo effort soars in and above the latter group.
Written, performed, and produced entirely by Reeder, TunnelVision Brilliance steps dynamically into a world of heavy psychedelics and artistic heaviness rarely visited by those of us on Earth. The album flows freely from Tool-like moments of crushingly complex guitar and bass trade off's into the echoing acoustics and airy synthesizers of David Gilmour-led Pink Floyd opuses. Like some other solo outings, this is a record that was realized over many, many, years. Unlike some other recordings of its type, however, TunnelVision Brilliance maintains a clear voice and never wallows in the wreckage of songs deemed unworthy of other projects. Quite the contrary, these songs represent the mind a brilliant musician and producer unafraid to experiment but unwilling to compromise the clarity of another work.
Dense and engaging, TB features some great songs. Large soundscapes, like "For Renee" are all over the record, and pull the listener into an ocean-like scene with guitar effects evoking the sounds of waves and seagulls. "The Day of Neverending" pounds to a start with an almost Cult-like rhythm and percussion feel and a hooky chorus tacked on for good measure. "The Fourth" is almost Doorsy, containing an overly political message, and "Diamond" is a perfect example of Momentary Lapse of Reason-era Floyd. Make no mistake, Reeder isn't in any way derivative in his approach, but you can hear and feel a carefully thought-out and well-loved scrapbook of Rock in these compositions. Each song is well-arranged and placed exactly where it should be in the sequence. Even the cover art unsettles and intrigues, looking like a cross between a Christ-like motif and that scene in Empire Strikes Back when Luke is in that weird water tank.
For everyone out there who has heard Scott Reeder in some capacity but has still never heard of him, give those Kyuss records another listen. Pull out the Obsessed and really give it a listen. Now you've heard of him, do yourself a favor and get TunnelVision Brilliance. Heavy in all the right places, trippy in all the rest, like a great big Metal quilt, it's easy to wrap yourself up in. One listen to the anthemic, "Fuck You All" and you'll be sold. The mix of personal and worldly wisdom contained within is more than you'll get in any other album this year. Being honest, too few people have heard of Scott Reeder. All of those people owe it to themselves to take a chance on this record.