n the past, as far as my own experience goes, it wasn't uncommon to hear about teachers that were also musicians in their extremely limited office hours. I remember playing an open mic a few years back that had a band that was made up entirely of teachers. What I'm calling a tradition is continued with Brob Ront Experiment, a project headed up by Brent Tomchik, a high school math teacher and an advisor for his school's theater tech crew from Baltimore, Maryland. He's been writing music for 12 years but has only begun to practice the art of recording that music in the last five years. While he is the creative head of this project, he prefers to focus more on that actual recording of the music.
On this release entitled Maturo, he had help from friends Tony Vitez on guitar, Aaron Santory on keys, and Nick DiGiacomo on violin. He recorded the album at two separate home studios using pretty rudimentary equipment but still managed to produce something quite pleasing to the ear.
The songs on the album were written as homage to the people that Tomchik met while he studied and taught in Slovenia. Through the music, one feels you can see the alpine territory of the country's northwest. Brob Ront Experiment accomplishes this with a surprisingly limited musical palette on the opener, "Ljubljana". I was reminded of early Sixpence None The Richer on "I'm Here,” with its sparse percussion and chorus and echo-drenched guitars. From there, the songs range from ambient and instrumental (“You Colour The World Like Street Art”) to late night-friendly rock (“Valley Song”). To my ears, the standout track on the album is absolutely the closer, "New Pedagogy (Bojana).” It brings the tempo up and mixes peppy pop rock drumbeats with a slow melody in a way that works perfectly.
Overall, this album is done quiet well as a study in production and recording. Unfortunately, the songs don't really feel very well thought through, ranging from unoffensive and mellow to simply forgettable. It isn't that the music is bad by any means; it just didn't have that special spark that can make it really feel like magic. I'm excited to hear what Tomchik has coming in the future, though. He's obviously a gifted producer and engineer and, with practice, will only get better.
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