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Owen Tromans | From a Lost Library (Sacred Geometry)
None but a fool would seriously assert that this is an inspiring time for British music. How many of your top 10 albums of last year were by artists from this country? One? Two? Get away. The fact that this is the best British CD I've heard in months, and that it's produced on a small scale just up from the old CD-R and colour photocopier is probably not a coincidence. It just re-enforces the suspicion that the UK music industry is not interested in new talent, just milking the tired old stagers. Owen Tromans has one self-released solo disc out already, 'Box of Tapes', and used to lead a semi-successful band called San Lorenzo. He's currently also part of power rock trio After Rome. This here disc really does compare to the sort of music we're all turning our ears and credit cards towards America for these days. The likes of Sea & Cake and Jim O' Rourke are evoked, not because Mr T sounds a lot like either, but because he has that post-rock freshness whilst still sounding true to his roots. But that's easy to say whilst listening to a folky song called Fisherman's Daughter, which can't help but sound finger-in-ear rootsy. (The song contains the lines, "Shed no tears for me on your lonely pillow / But remember me each time you sit beneath the willow" - ten points awarded for the first line but six docked for the appearance of the conveniently-rhyming 'willow'!) It's less easy to assert when the next track, an instrumental called Walnut, actually does sound like Sea & Cake. This combining of styles comes to a head on Stolen Horses, which starts out sparse and strummy and then goes all spunky, verging on the Neil Young, as the guitars get all wild and noisy. A Good Storm ends this mini-album on a cute chimey instrumental note, with a small clap of thunder at the end. If I've painted a picture of some fertile stylistic mixing here my job is done. The fact that Tromans writes memorable songs too fixes this fertility into one short but sweet and strong contender for attention. Oh, and the tasteful sleeve design is by someone called Matt Dornan ?? a strangely familiar name I can't quite place at the moment (save the name-dropping, you're still not getting paid ?? Ed).

Jeff Cotton
CWAS #12 - Summer 2003