Album Review

TOMO – Butterfly Dream And Other Guitar Works (Subvalent, 2010)

TOMOCeremonial Music In Sheol

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Before you know anything about this record, know that I love it SO HARD. It’s damn near perfect. Now, other pertinent things. TOMO stands for Transcendental Organic Magical Objective. He is one Japanese dude who learned old school blues/bluegrass/banjo Americana stuff in Missouri for 8 years, plays a part in the Japanese psych scene (Tetragrammaton), and takes on minimalists like Loren Connors and La Monte Young as influences. So clearly this record is destined for brilliance and can’t help but be very dear to my heart.

Butterfly Dream And Other Guitar Works (named for the Zhuangzi story) is essentially a guitar drone record, but not like Stars Of The Lid or Brian Grainger or anything. This is guitars + drone, with a hurdy gurdy doing most of the droning, and it’s absolutely beautiful. TOMO plays all sorts of styles and he does them all so well. He can do the traditional Appalachian folk, dusty Western raga, he can even make his guitar sound like a Baroque harpsichord. His proficiency limits him to no instrument or technique, so he can combine everything into a melting pot of cultural elegance. It’s goddamn incredible.

One of the most amazing pieces is the 22 minute title track. It starts out with a harmonious mix of 6 string picking & hurdy gurdy drone and it just weaves a tremendous tapestry of surreal textures, a mid-tempo guitar pulse dancing over heaving tonal bliss. By the end of the 20 minutes, though, the guitar has mysteriously buried itself under the drone, which has gotten louder & louder until you’re left with a warm wall of static thrum glory.

I know it’s one of those clichés, but Butterfly Dream would totally worth it if it was just “Butterfly Dream” and not “Butterfly Dream” plus 50 more fucking minutes of this. Yeah, this album is an hour and 10 minutes long. And every track is 100% amazing. I could write an entire post about each song, gushing & glowing about the perfections in the delicate details and how it melts my body & brain into a pool of stress-free euphoria. But you get the idea. This is fucking essential.