CD REVIEW  POM

Band : POM
Album title : Sleepwalker
Label : Casket Music – Copro Records
Distributor : PHD – Skratch The Surface (promotion)
Release date : 26/03/2012
Release : MCD

If, 10 years ago, you would've predicted that Copro Records would one day include an acoustic solo guitarist onto their roster, I most probably would've advised such a person to go seek out help from a shrink. 5 years ago however, I might've made that prediction myself, and today the day has finally come that such an “unthinkable” feet has become a fact with the London based artist known simply as “POM”! Not having found any better info sources, I readily declare that the story below stems from the info sheet we got along with our promo copy of the album. However, I've done my best to re-write the text, using details found elsewhere.

You see, although born in Britain, POM was raised in Singapore, New Zealand and Australia, and he traveled extensively before he eventually returned to the UK, where he decided to become a musician. He made his musical career debut playing steel strung guitar in Bluegrass circles but, after developing an interest in Flamenco styles and playing techniques, eventually turned over to nylon stringed guitar. Not content with just emanating one specific style, he then traveled through Europe with another guitarist, settling among Spanish Gypsies from the Camargue region in Southern France. Sounds incredible for an “outsider” to be accepted in that kind of circles, but that's what happened thanks to the bonds of music, ànd the fact that POM actively immersed himself in the Gypsy culture, of course. At any rate, he spent a lot of time playing and comparing guitar styles, and eventually started crossing his past experiences with a more contemporary approach through the use of plectrum, and the type of double-handed fret board playing which made the likes of Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai and Satriani stand out from their peers.

Unavoidably, he developed his own unique style of playing, his influences ranging from Paco De Lucia through to the aforementioned Eddie Van Halen, but always keeping focused on the acoustic! Along the way, POM was involved with film music, as he composed music for his own award winning short films, and produced videos with the aim of promoting the style and performance of his music. He also contributed to tribute albums celebrating Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughn on compilation albums released through New York label BHP Music. But, until now, POM had not yet recorded any of his material for a professional release (mind you, demo recordings of what's on this album, which was recorded by renowned producer Hick Hemingway at Copro's own Philia Studios, were already used in the soundtrack of indie UK movie Lost Contact).

Although comprising only 9 tracks, 4 of which with a length under or well under 4 minutes, the album still has the appreciable duration of just over 50 minutes, and this obviously means you get a couple of songs bordering the 10-minute range. It speaks for POM's composition skills, that one doesn't even become aware of the presence of those longer tracks, a feet accomplished thanks to the hypnotic feel of the material overall. Yeah, it's acoustic, but it moves man!, and any guitar freak won't be able to help being mesmerized by what this guy brings! In essence, the album shows two sides of POM, the first being the most honest, displaying just him and his guitar (and an occasional vocal chant on top) in 5 “solo” songs, recorded in one take. In the 4 other tracks (because in essence this is an instrumental album) POM brings in additional bass and/ or guitar, and in 2 of those track Nick Hemingway even programmed some drum. Obviously, those tracks a re slightly more complex, but although I usually like some complexity in music, in this case I prefer the honesty of the “solo” tracks...which are nót devoid of certain complexities anyway! And the mixture of styles is what makes this guitarist un-needy for huge amplifier stacks to attract attention!

You can find POM's music in the “video” section on the man's own website (www.) pom-guitarist.com (currently no audio section is made available yet)...and read up on some interesting history of the roots of guitar music in the “history” section! This is the kind of music which, although it is at moments played at incredible pace, I could enjoy thoroughly, sitting on the porch with a cool lemonade close at hand during hot Summer evenings!

94/100

Tony.