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Tom McCarthy: The Electric Distant Surfacing

Guitarist Tom McCarthy holds down a day gig as a musician with the Blue Man Group but found the time to record this solo venture in 1999. It’s a moody, waterlogged effort, punctuated by a single acoustic episode, and basically a vehicle for McCarthy’s bravado fusion playing. The guitarist claims influences from Hendrix to Coltrane, and touches of Miles’ dark, electric funk-pop up here and there, but from the first track on, it’s apparent that metal guitar, new-age music and prog-rock have made a deeper impression on him. “Dissolving in Orchid” may be one long power ballad solo in search of a vocalist. “Mark of Cain,” heavy with McCarthy’s distortion and wah, wail and rumble, simply reinforces the impression. Tunes like “Still Place” try to break the pattern; McCarthy reaches for the acoustic here and tries to get something going with keyboardist Jamie Edwards. They do offer a two-minute break from the dank guitar skilz showcase that is Surfacing, but despite the welcome shift in mood, it’s rarely more than atmosphere.

Drummer/ringer Bob Moses tries valiantly to anchor the date, and quite frankly, he’s the only reason to listen to this thin recording. Unfortunately, when McCarthy kicks up the distortion and rocks out, he drowns practically everyone in the band, Moses included.

Originally Published