With the exception of the piano, the guitar is one of the only instruments that a pop or rock oriented musician can play solo and still be taken seriously by a mass audience. People are very accepting of the sounds and rhythms of the guitar and therefore it is allowed to stand out on its own, and also just because it can.
And solo guitar rocking is just one of the many musical modes that Iowa born Byrn Paul dabbles in. On his first solo release, the seven song There's a Human Infestation in This Nature, Paul offers up a mixture of ambience and sometimes metal, sometimes shoegaze, guitar tracks, which run the gamut of influence from early ‘90s sludge-grunge bands like Champagne-Urbana’s Hum to more recent rock instrumentalists like Explosions in the Sky.
Byrn Paul was raised by a traveling musician mother from whom he was first influenced by. Later influences were fingerstyle guitar maestro Richard Leo Johnson, and blues legend and steel guitar virtuoso Catfish Keith. Not that either of these influences are heavily noticeable on There's a Human Infestation in This Nature although there are some very nice finger picked solos if one listens closely.
Something that I think must be questioned are the over the top song titles. One wonders why an artist whose songs have no lyrics, and therefore arguably needs little acknowledgement beyond track one, track two, etc. It’s not that I think that it’s bad, only that the song titles are so hyperbolic it that it takes away from the nature of the music itself. It could be argued however that celestial sounding “A Somber Moment for a Somber Something” does fit the slow and ambient wave-like structure of the song. Though I find that on this record Paul is best when picking away at his acoustic guitar like on the starkly brilliant “Embracing Consequences (Smiles On Our Faces).”
As far as the production goes, this type of music, which has such a huge focus on the way the instrumentation sounds, mainly because there are no lyrics, needs to be recorded at a better quality. There is hollowness and shallowness in a lot of the sounds on There's a Human Infestation in This Nature and I think a higher quality recording would really help to showcase Paul’s talent.
Overall There's a Human Infestation in This Nature is a sound first attempt by a very talented guitar player. With a little more work and some more learning experiences I can definitely see Byrn Paul getting better with each subsequent record.
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