As the world and age wears down the ability to be truly surprised and equally finding many things to be especially excited by, there is one thing which does get the juices flowing and that is something new from Slug Comparison. That kind of anticipation springs from being enthralled by its first single Bringer of Doom and subsequently hooked on a following self-titled debut album back in 2014 and has now been seriously rewarded with new EP IIa.
For those yet to discover the glory of Slug Comparison, it is the solo project of Doug Harrison, the vocalist/guitarist of the similarly tempting Canadian progressive rock outfit Fen, they not to be confused with the British black metallers of the same name. Harrison’s sound has already proved to be is an instinctively bold and imaginative embracing of various rock bred styles and textures while involving ears and thoughts with an intimacy which maybe can only emerge within a solo endeavour. It has been a quiet time on the Slug Comparison front recently with Harrison being afflicted by tendinitis last year which brought his work on new tracks to a temporary halt; being unable to play and compose as is his process on the guitar. He is back now though and returns with the first in a series of EPs, a trio of songs produced by Doug Fury with Harrison which simply ignites the senses and imagination like never before.
Drawing on the craft of Fen guitarist Sam Levin, bassist Mike Young from The Devin Townsend Band, and Randall Stoll of Congenital Fixation to bring his new tracks to life, the latter pair having helped out previously on that first album, Harrison instantly captivates attention with opener Let Some Light. The lure of acoustic guitar hungrily caresses ears initially, it’s tempting soon joined and enhanced by Harrison’s distinctive and ever compelling vocals and the darker hues of bass and beats. Melodies ignite across the infectious canter of the song, opening like suggestive blooms as voice shares emotion and reflection with harmonic and earnest dexterity. Heavier rock strains add to the evolving landscape of the song, essences of blues and classic rock colouring more progressive and folkish essences though it all joins and emerges as something with its own character and style. The track is simply delicious, infectious and emotive while involving body and thought with sublime ease and craft; escalating all attributes with its unpredictability.
The opener also reveals a new organic catchiness in Harrison’s music without defusing the imagination and established individuality of sound exposed within his debut album. That infectiousness is even more virulent in the following Exactly What to Do. If its predecessor is irresistible, the second track is alchemy for the spirit, the track instantly grabbing hips and instincts with its swinging gait and a rock ‘n’ roll hunger soon joined by an addiction inciting chorus. Spicy grooves and grungy rapacity adds to the contagious theatre of the song, every catchy twist and seductive turn a spark to involvement and lusty pleasure. At times there are hints at the likes of Porcupine Tree, Voyager, and Katatonia within the adventure but again no more than scents in its own rich roar.
Becoming completes the EP, a gentle stroll of a song with Harrison and acoustic guitar again an engaging hug welcoming ears into the intimacy and heart of the song. A smouldering persuasion compared to the forceful exploits of the first two tracks, it still needs little time to unite with thoughts and appetite as ears get lost in its melodic wiring and descriptive beauty.
Even with an instinctive connection with the sounds of Slug Comparison because of those earlier temptations, IIa still left a surprise spawned open mouth behind on its first listen and a greed for much more thereon in. Doug Harrison has hit yet another plateau with his own writing and music and indeed for us eclipsed anything from Fen to date too; time the world caught on we say.
The IIa EP is out now and available @ https://slugcomparison.bandcamp.com/album/iia as a name your own price download.
Pete RingMaster 13/06/2017
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