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The Creeping Unknown

Robert Scott
The Creeping Unknown
(Thirsty Ear)

Robert Scott is one of those artists who's been prolific for over 20 years now, but whom I've still never heard of. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the most knowlegeable music person in the world, but The Clean, The Bats, and The Magick Heads just aren't ringing any bells for me. Interestingly enough, though, this is his first solo album. Perhaps as it should be expected from someone who's been recording so long with so many different groups (as well as several other side projects), it's a widely varied affair, but it's also one that still manages to work quite well.

Although the 19 track album is largely instrumental tracks that mainly focus on textures and melodies (with lots of nice guitar and piano work), there are a few vocal tracks (which hit and miss) to break up things even more. Although you might be tempted to think so, The Creeping Unknown is actually a bit of dark title for much of the music that goes on within the disc. Even with all the tracks, though, the disc only runs just over 50 minutes, and the main reason for that is that there are a lot of little filler tracks in between the more polished ones.

The album opens up with "Harmonic Deluxe," and it's a nice mixture of layered, plucked guitars and a very slight electronic percussion. There are even some odd, but unobtrusive vocals from a pull toy that drift in ever so slightly and don't really add anything or take away. It's a quite, pretty track, and it's followed up nicely with another short track entitled "Shelf Control" that blends regular guitar, backwards guitar, and a delicate piano into a very appealing little track. Even when Scott is singing on the farfisa organ backed "Last Outlaws," it makes for an endearing little lo-fi breakup of the layered guitar work.

Of course, there are other tracks to help sort of break up the flow, and unfortunately they do just that more than they should sometimes. Minute-long filler tracks like "International Loss Adjuster," "Extinguisher," and "Upper Lab" just don't really do a whole lot despite their eerie keyboard effects. Besides, I'd much rather be hearing beautiful atmospheric drifting tracks like the title track "The Creeping Unknown." With a subtle mix of guitar, keyboards, and piano, it feels like a cross between Brian Eno and Michael Brook, which is definitely a good thing. Even more experimental tracks like the somewhat jagged "Somewhere On The Coast" work amazingly well.

The only track that feels quite a bit out-of-place (in addition to the little segue tracks) is the more rocking "When Shade Was Made." Although it comes later in the album, it sort of breaks up the whole mood of the CD by introducing a fairly traditional rock song structure to what was otherwise a more drifting disc. If you're a fan of artists like the aforementioned Michael Brooks, you probably won't go wrong here. Although I have a couple beefs, it's nothing that detracts hugely from the release. I just hope he refines his sound a tad more before he releases his second solo effort.

Rating: 6.75