OHMphrey – OHMphrey
Magna Carta 9101-2
If you were around in the 80’s and you liked fast guitar, you probably bought a few albums like this. Joe Satriani. Steve Vai. Perhaps their brainier British cousin, Allan Holdsworth, or the Southern-fried Steve Morse. Lots of rapid fretwork, aggressive drumming, joystick synths and, because even guitar giants have a sensitive side, the occasional ballad that sounds as if Steve Perry could join in at any moment.
The members of OHM were on the scene then, although guitarist Chris Poland was integrating his sound into Megadeth rather than letting the fusion flag fly. Umphrey’s McGee were still in school, but were no doubt buying some of those records. As a result, this extracurricular get-together of two members of OHM (Poland and bassist Robertino Pagliari) and three McGee men (Jake Cinninger, Joel Cummins and Kris Myers) sounds like it could be a lost session from those days.
That said, spontaneity sets OHMphrey apart from those usually heavily-produced 80’s records. Taking only two days to record and without overdubs, the group mixed compositions with a few improv cuts, and on a few cuts there are audible tape edits and more than a little buzz from Myers’s snare.
Despite the generation gap, Poland and Cinninger find common ground easily, and both get many chances to burn up the fretboard. It’s Myers, though, who is especially impressive, never letting the energy flag and often taking the initiative to steer the improv cuts into new sections. Pagliari’s Percy Jones-esque fretless bass and Cummins’s orchestrational keyboards also get a few chances at the spotlight, although they often assume background responsibilities.
The improv tracks sometimes pace for a while before finding direction and the guitar licks, though fleet, are often familiar, so those who passed up the guitar gods of old won’t be swayed by this disc. For the rest of us, though, it will be easy to share in the fun that the musicians evidently had making this disc.