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Harmonic Passion, review

From Sweden – land of the midnight sun and home to a virtual legion of incredible guitar players – comes one Thomas Larsson, offering up an amazing collection of guitar art on the aptly titled ”Harmonic Passion.”

Talk about a tone merchant – it’s delivered here in spades. From delicate, hyper-articulate cleanliness to raging slabs of the tightest heaviness to the smoothest screams of ”woman tone” lead work, brother Tom’s passion goes well beyond just tone, chops, composition and arrangement – he actually builds his own amplifiers and effects to his own exacting specifications, resulting in not one, but SEVERAL signature sounds that are his and his alone. That alone is worth the price of admission. But…there’s more…a lot more…

Whenever the phrase ”guitar instrumental” comes up, the inevitable question always seems to be, ”Who does he sound like?” – implying a pre-conceived mindset that what you’re about to hear is REMINISCENT of some prior work by some other artist…you know, it sounds like ”this guy” or ”that guy.” One interesting impression that stuck with me like a virus long after multiple listens of this disc is that, if anything, the exact opposite is true here: take the opening cut ”Tomahawk” for example – Mr. Larsson sounds more like Eric Johnson than, well, Eric Johnson! This strangely wonderful trend of ”influential inversion” continues throughout the entire record. ”Autopilot” sounds like what Steve Morse SHOULD sound like; ”Harmonic Passion,” the title cut, channels Mozart via Santana-Beckland (!); ”Laidback Rabbit” pays homage to the other-worldly picking technique of the late, great Jimmy Bryant. But…there’s more… There’s ”Brusa hogre lilla a,” ”Olympic Ride” and ”Cosmic Safari” – hypnotic, pastoral, majestic guitar excursions all – that are highly emotive and hauntingly beautiful…as close to a spiritual experience as music can provide.

When was the last time ANY piece of music took your breath away? Well, here’s three that will do just that. It’s impossible to pigeonhole Mr. Larsson – he’s so deft at his craft and exhibits such masterful control of his instrument through the wide range of stylized compositions on this CD that each song is a musical territory unto itself. Even though every song stands alone as a separate musical story, there is a maturity and confidence that saturates this disc, resulting in a diverse yet cohesive recording that reveals NO weaknesses in any category. The compositions are brilliant; the arrangements are tightly focused; the melodies are inventive and harmonically rich, the solo work is at once virtuosic (at times, his flurries rival Vai and Malmsteen), yet earthy, soulful (Thomas also has one of the best vibratos on the planet) and perfectly proportioned (nothing is forced or self-indulgent); the tones are the musical equivalent of the spectrums on a color wheel; the recording, mix and mastering is transparent and pristine; and the work of his bandmates – particularlly the Johansson brothers (Weine on bass, Eiron on drums and LO ”Ägget” on piano) – perfectly compliment the proceedings with energy, flair and style. Top shelf all the way around, and highly recommended – especially if you’d like to experience the feeling of being infected by a particularly virulant strain of ”influential inversion” that infuses ”Harmonic Passion.”

It’s highly contagious…and completely incurable.

JIMMY RYAN (TRUTH SQUAD)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]