Thomas Oliver - Beneath The Weissenborn

By Mike O'Connor

Released August 23rd, 2013 - Rhythmethod

The concept album doesn't have the best reputation. For everySergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band or Let England Shake, there are twice as many concept albums by drug-addled rockers waxing lyrical about goblins and unicorns. It's a much-maligned genre, and one that has typically served as an opportunity to stroke an already inflated ego.

And it's for these reasons that an instrumental album played solely on a Weissenborn (a type of steel lap guitar in case you were wondering), seems like it would be doomed to fail right from the start.

Despite establishing himself as a musician of considerable talent, Thomas Oliver must surely have had a tough sell when he proposed the Weissenborn as the centerpiece of his latest album. An instrument of subtlety, the Weissenborn doesn't shout out ‘solo album'. Fortunately, looks, and sounds, can be deceiving.

The music has a dreamlike quality, the songs rolling together with waves of reverb and echo. And the album is more varied than you might think. It's only when you hear the different Weissenborn's together that you hear the subtle differences in sound, such as on There may be hope yet, a song so densely layered it sounds like an orchestral composition.

In many ways it's admirable that an album such as this made it out of the studio at all. It's a unique album, a slow burner, and one that suits a particular audience. It's clearly a labour of love, and with over 100,000 youtube views of his cover of the Jurassic Park theme, (check it out here) it's also an album that definitely deserves a listen.

 4 / 5