They said that when Keith Moon made a solo record in the 1970s, he decided to make a straight-up rock album with a full band instead of a project strictly for percussionists, which would have suited his skills better. I’m not sure about all that, but I have noticed a lot of GUITAR-ONLY LPs coming out of all shapes and sizes. You got yer Mick Barr/Crom-Tech/Ocrilim, yer Six Organs Of Admittance/James Blackshaw, yer Plante… all three put out six-string-salute albums without accompaniment, and all three manage to make the format stick.
Chrome Jackson, nee Stephen Mattos of Arab On Radar (not to mention Athletic Automation, The Chinese Stars, Doomsday Student), takes the Han Solo route too. No bass. No drums. No singer (in fact, fuck singers). Just a man and his plan, squaring off against those who would find his aims gratuitous. Luckily, via his founding membership of AOR, Mattos has already been in a band people hate, so since then, he’s been free to go where he wants to go and do what he wants to do. In my eyes, he’s been successful in all his projects since Arab On Radar folded, and thus it’s not surprising I view Chrome Forest, under the nom de plume Chrome Jackson, as another positive step for a musician who obviously has more to say — without actually saying anything — than any of us realized.
It’s a rough ride, should you choose to take it; some of you will not be making it back. It’s as if Mattos has sun-baked the hypnotic pedal abuse of Mincemeat Or Tenspeed into the huge metal apparatus of Barr’s solo-guitar work, the whole concoction vaulting way over the top as repetition turns to repetition turns to repetition turns to repetition. Before you know it, Chrome Forest has you by the curly Qs. It cools you off with a blast of ice-cool steam every now and again, but for the most part, the guitar loops spiral around in the air like helicopter seeds (which one can find under sycamore leaves, if you must know) as the ear tries to catch them, never quite bringing them under control. The loops pile on and back off, echo and drift, linger and lilt. The patterns are so rigid your ears will perk up like candy-cane smiles when you hear the second and third layers form a hardened crust around your ugly head.
As with the family Mississippi leg hound, it’s best to just let Mattos finish. Trust me, he’s going somewhere with this.