Posts Tagged ‘guitar-based’

Fractal Control is the moniker used by musician Mike Louttit. Louttit writes instrumental rock with a message in the title of each track.  His first release of instrumental rock is an album entitled Disconnection Equals Freedom. Disconnection Equals Freedom from Fractal Control begins with the track “Hidden Truth”. The track opens with a rock riff that has a nice groove to it. Soon, the song takes on a much harder feel as the music goes in a heavier direction. The two-minute track of “Hidden Truth” has a driving feel to it while still containing a strong beat that will get your toes tapping along to the song.

The next track on the Disconnection Equals Freedom release from Fractal Control is called “Awakened and Aware”. Like the previous track of “Hidden Truth,” Mike Louttit continues with his political stance in the title as the title of this track suggests that the listener is now paying attention to what is going on around them. The track contains a much harder feel in the music than the previous track like Louttit intended to wake the listener up and is now delivering a strong message of rock and roll. The lighter approach on the music about a third of the way through the track gives the listener a break from the intensity of the music for nearly a third of the track itself  before the track once again picks up the power in the music. The power in the music makes for a great track that most lovers of harder rock and roll will really enjoy.

With the track “Starved for Change” takes the listener in a slightly different direction, musically. The music of the track is just as heavy as the song that came before it. However, the multiple guitar parts in the song all work together to create the melody and make the track feel as if it was actually a very heavy jazz composition. The track suddenly changes its intensity as the music takes on a much lighter feel. The lighter approach on the music truly brings out the jazzy feel of the earlier part of the track. The lighter, easier pace of the music on the track allows the listener to experience a completely different side to the music of Mike Louttit and Fractal Control. The track continues as the music once again takes on the heavier sound of the earlier part of the track. The alternating between the lighter and heavier styles in the track brings out the meaning of the track’s title of “Starved for Change”. When the two styles are brought together, the track becomes the most complex track on the seven-song release from Fractal Control.

The Disconnection Equals Freedom release from Fractal Control continues with the song “Discovered through Thought”. While it might be a bit heavier than what Frank Zappa might have released on his own, the track features a style of guitar playing that would make Zappa proud as the guitar helps create a very offbeat musical approach. The guitar playing near the end of the track also brings to mind the playing style of Zappa’s son Dweezil. The “Discovered through Thought” track seems to find Mike Louttit exposing just a little of the influences he has picked up as he learned to play the guitar.

Like the album’s first track of “Hidden Truth,” “Retrace” is a track that finds Mike Louttit and Fractal Control creating a very short musical vignette. The strong playing on the track brings out the beauty of the music that seems a bit mellower than the rest of the album. The track is a nice change of pace from the rest of the release and gives a completely different view of the music from Fractal Control.

Disconnection Equals Freedom comes to an end with the track “Already Ourselves”. While the rest of the release is created with the use of guitars, the final track of the release is created on the keyboards. The inclusion of the keyboards on the track helps to put the emphasis on the words being spoken about being ourselves. The easier approach and gentler feel of the music help to bring the release to an end.

The seven-song Disconnection Equals Freedom from Fractal Control is a strong release from the very beginning. And with various styles of rock that are found within the music on the CD keeping the listener’s attention, you’ll have a great time listening to the music.

Reviewer: Matheson Kamin Rating: **** (four stars)

To listen to the music of Fractal Control, check out the band’s Soundcloud profile.


Everett Young found himself looking for a new direction in life over a decade ago. Wanting that new direction, he became motivated to learn to play the guitar, an instrument that he had picked up and put down several times before. However, this time was the charm and he added the ability to play the guitar to other talents including playing the keyboards. Now able to play the guitar, Everett Young turned his focus to being a musician full time. Both a music teacher and a musician in his own right now, Young took that talent and created a musical outfit called Kicklighter.

In Kicklighter, Everett Young has created music that has a truly timeless sound and feel. That timeless feel is mainly because the music created by Everett Young exists somewhere in the late seventies, early eighties between the Glam Rock and New Wave eras of music, an era where the music was still evolving before it started catching the ear of the music-buying people at the time. To help bring the music of Kicklighter alive, guitarist/keyboardist/singer Everett Young is joined by album producer/bassist Tim DeLaney, drummer Sam Owens and several others who add a few musical contributions to the album to help flesh out the music.

Because of their sound, if there was one person that you could compare Everett Young and Kicklighter to, it would probably be English New Wave musician John Foxx. The two musicians have much in common: Neither seem to follow the norm, both are multi-talented musicians, and their respective songs are written not for the everyday music buyer but for those who want something more substantial than the cookie cutter pop music that exists in the music industry.

Kicklighter’s music can be found on the album entitled The Fascinating Thinking Machine. The 2014 album begins with the track “Until You See the Sun”. The track features a strong guitar-based feel to the music that easily falls into the New Wave era of music. The gentle driving feel pace to the rock music and the background noise bring to mind the feel of the Thomas Dolby while the sound of the music also brings to mind John Foxx. The track truly brings back the sound of the early eighties.

While the first track had a guitar-driven feel, the second track of “Says a Tender Mind” finds Everett Young and the rest of the band creating a track that features a sound that is equal parts guitar and keyboards. This track is the perfect track to show off Young’s ability as a lyricist. Lyrics like “it is a world without any right angles” and “I think too much, drive myself mad” bring into focus the fact that Everett Young was, at one point, a political psychologist. While lyrics like those do seem a little unusual for today’s pop music; they are not so unusual that they would put the listener off. “Says a Tender Mind” is a good spot to enjoy Young’s playing on both the keyboard and the guitar. The track allows for both instruments to shine.

Tackling a subject like robotics and making it work as a song is very difficult. But somehow, Everett Young has managed to create lyrics about a robot and makes them work in the song “Making a Robot”. The lyrics about making a robot that thinks and behaves just like a human creates a moment on the release that will make people stop and think. Along with the thought provoking lyrics, the song has a much more commercial feel to it than the first two tracks on The Fascinating Thinking Machine. The guitar-driven song features Young creating the track with both electric and acoustic guitars. That combination helps to create the commercial sound featured on the track.

With the track “The Sultan of Brunei,” Kicklighter goes away from the rock music that came before and they take the music in a slightly jazzy feel. The music from Young, bassist Tim DeLaney and drummer Sam Owens creates a smooth groove. With the inclusion of Joe Gransden on horn, the combo sounds as good as if it were an actual jazz combo. The light vocal delivery from Young adds to the jazzy feel of the track. The jazzy track makes for a nice break from the rock music that came before.

Staying with a slower, lighter feel to the music, The Fascinating Thinking Machine continues with the song “After the Healing”. While “The Sultan of Brunei” has a jazzy feel to it, “After the Healing” finds Everett Young and the rest of Kicklighter moving towards a “lite rock” feel to the music. The lyrics of the song help add emotion to the song.

The Fascinating Thinking Machine from Kicklighter is an interesting album of music that features music that could be from almost any decade. The music on the release is nicely varied and that keeps the album interesting. And while some of the topics covered in the lyrics by Everett Young may seem a bit outside of the norm, the songs never stray too far. The result of that is an album that is listener friendly while still being unique.

Reviewer: Matheson Kamin
Rating: **** (four stars)


Take one frontman who sings and plays keyboards and match him up with another musician who used to play jazz guitar, match them up with a drummer to add the backbone to the music and you have the core to the Portland-based band Ravishers. Frontman Dominic Castillo and guitarist Jonathan Barker are joined by drummer Nathan Szytel and several others to complete the music for the band.

Together, the resulting group known as Ravishers is a musical outfit that features a sound that alternates between guitar-driven and piano-driven. That guitar/piano mix from the band is found on their various releases. Having already put out one EP entitled Singles for Singles, the band has returned with a new self-titled release.

The self-titled release from Ravishers begins with the track “I’m Him”. The track begins with just a light piano and drums before the guitar joins in. The track finally builds to include the bass about a minute in and from then on, the band creates a pop-driven feel to the music that features both guitar and piano equally. The classic line-up of piano, guitar, bass and drums of the track gives the album a great rock feel.

While “I’m Him” has a pop-rock feel using the combination of piano, bass and drums, the band’s second track of “You Have It” has more of a sparse feel to the music as the same piano, bass and drums are used to create a much more simplistic feel to the music. In fact, at times, the music consists of only piano and drums. At other times, the entire combination of piano, bass and drums as well as guitar come together to create the music in the track. And even though Castillo, Barker and Szytel create a much looser feel to the music on this track there is definitely no energy loss to the rock music. In fact, “You Have It” seems to have a much more commercial feel to it than the previous track.

With the next track of “The Chase,” the band creates a song that features an alternating feel to the energy level of the music. At times, the song has a pop-like feel to the music while at other times; the band lets the music’s energy take control of the pace of the song. The resulting track allows the piano, guitar and bass shine as Castillo sings about enjoying the give and take of a relationship. With this song, you can almost imagine the song being released as a single to be played on your local Alternative Rock radio station.

Perhaps the most commercial track on the self-titled album from Ravishers is the song “Cruel Love”. The lyrics of the track seem to be perfect to follow the previous track of “The Chase”. With a musical combination that finds the piano, guitar, bass and drums of the band coming together in almost equal parts, “Cruel Love” features a much stronger rock feel to the music than the previous song while still having the same lyrical connection. “Cruel Love” is probably the first time on the album where you will find yourself singing along with the song.

Another track on the self-titled release from Ravishers that has a strong rock feel is the song “Underachievers”. This is a track that seems to have Castillo and Barker working together to create a song that doesn’t feature the piano or the guitar more than the other. The seemingly flawless blending of the two instruments helps to give the track a lot of depth. The track features one of the best lines in rock to come along in years: “It’s nowhere or bust.” That little hint of humor give the track even more character.

Probably the best-known track off of the self-titled album from Ravishers is the song “Keep You Around”. In fact, the song was actually created at the time that the band was known as Dominic Castillo and the Rock Savants. “Keep You Around” has one of the best beats of any track off the release and could easily become a fan favorite. Although the rest of the album features the band sticking strictly to creating their songs using the members of the band, this track finds stepping outside of the usual quartet setting by bringing in an additional singer. It is Kelly Mesigat who lends her voice to the track as she and Dominic Castillo create a duet of sorts as the two sing of being lonely if they ever said goodbye to each other. Not really the most romantic of concepts, “Keep You Around” could be considered an Anti-love song.

The track “Nobody Falls in Love Anymore” is one track that really brings the piano to the forefront of the music. The piano-based song features a slightly different feeling than the rest of the tracks on the album as it features a horn section. The sad feeling of the music and lyrics also separate the track from the rest of the music on the album as the rest of the release is much more upbeat.

“Happening” brings the album to a close. The track is one song that really allows former jazz guitarist Jonathan Barker to show off his skills as a rock guitarist. The guitar from Barker makes the track feel like an all-out rock song….while the song still keeps enough pop feeling to it to not feel out of place with the rest of the release.

From the first track of the self-titled album from Ravishers, the listener gets to experience a band that has a lot of depth to their writing. Because of the piano/guitar base for the band’s sound, the album transitions nicely from one style of music to the next. And with the two different approaches to the band’s songwriting being blended into one album, Ravishers has a sound that many will find to be appealing.

Click HERE for the video to “Keep You Around”.

The previous review is for an album that came out in 2010. Another writer for The Rock and Roll Report, Katherine Miller-Rowan, had created an article for the band at the same time I was going to and I didn’t want to end up with another article on the website. However, I recently discovered the article by Katherine Miller-Rowan was actually an interview of the band and not a review of their album. This review is to make good on my promise to review the album.

As both Dominic Castillo and Jonathan Barker are professional musicians, they have other projects they are currently working on. Both Castillo and Barker have since moved on from Ravishers.

Click HERE for the band’s PR Firm, In Music We Trust PR.