(All Album Reviews by Vinylroolz)
t is, in reality, 25-year-old German-born Thomas Theilen, who plays guitar with the Galileo Records band Scythe. naive is his debut solo album, and shows him to be more mature than either his age or album title would lead you to expect.
Calling t a "singer-songwriter" really doesn't do him justice, yet most accurately describes the overall presentation. Very much a one-man band, t plays all the instruments (guitars, bass, keyboards, programmed drums) and also performs all the vocals. His lyrics are introspective and delve deeply into rather dark subject matter, and his vocals are impassioned.
But it is the depth of the compositions and the fullness of the multilayered arrangements that really make this album interesting and compelling. You'll find no flashy gimmickry nor screaming chops nor dazzling solos, nor should you. t's compositions are rich soundscapes with elements of Krautrock, Pink Floyd and Peter Hammill (to name but a few influences).
Highlights include the 10+ minute opener "she said" (you won't find a capitalized letter anywhere on this album, an obvious bow to minimalism). t's fine voice sings about a woman's love and advice over a bed of simple piano and dense layers of synthesizers. Really tasteful guitar solo at the end.
"a night out" shows the most energy, and almost doesn't belong on the album with it's fuzzy synth-bass and distorted vocals. A very dark, schizophrenic psycho-killer theme forms the basis of the lyrics, and the music adequately morphs to express the feelings.
The instrumental "do not come back" typifies t's ability to create a lush soundscape. Lots of texture which includes some excellent space-guitar work. Really beautiful stuff.
"tuesday night blues" features an acoustic guitar and a simplistic piano line very reminiscent of the "X-Files" theme, with lyrics concerning alcoholism. Dark and tortured, but brutally honest.
"nothing more" lyrically reflects an oppressed society: "the same endless sky, same endless life, same endless nights, and nothing more". Brrrrr! Pretty depressing and self-defeating ideas and the minimalistic music compliments the vocals nicely.
The final track, the 9 and a half minute "about us" is absolutely gorgeous and features t's best vocal work. Simple electric piano themes, string synthesizers and the ever-present spacy synth background combine with a positively Frippish sustained guitar. Again, very reflective lyrics which t sings with passion. This is one stunningly beautiful piece of music.
naive is a fine first outing for this artist, but this obviously isn't for everyone. The music shares as much with pop as it does with minimalism, as much with prog as with new age. And I say that as a real fan of each of those musical forms. This is 68 minutes inside a man's soul. I'm glad he's shared it with me.
For ordering information, see the website