In the process of making art any time one tries to diverge from the norm one is taking a risk even greater than the risk of attempting to make what is referred to as “art.” Melbourne based musician Tom Norton has attempted just such a feat on his first foray into solo recording under the moniker Galaxy Hop. Norton is the former drummer of the band Citizen Sex. While spending a summer living in Germany with Citizen Sex, Norton became interested in the ever-prevalent electronic music scene. This interest traveled back to Melbourne with him and inspired him to build a studio in the “Granny flat” or what Americans would refer to as a “mother-in-law suite” in his home. It was here that he recorded his debut solo EP Saz Attacks.
Saz Attacks is entirely instrumental save for a single track of shyly poetic monotone verse. All four of the EP’s tracks use a simple drum track and bass loop to maintain the structure, though lap steel takes center stage as the main instrument. And though the influence of electronic music was the catalyst for this EP, it is about as far away from German techno as Germany is from Wyoming.
It takes a few spins to get into Saz Attacks, though once you’re in you’re in. The opener “Lunch Deal” is a lurching of mellow and melodic lap steel. It is simple and soothing, and the lap steel feels rhythmically more influenced by old cowboy on the prairie harmonica than anything else. This is followed by the Skiffle and sitar influenced rocker “Chew.”
Next the title track picks up the pace with a bluesy Middle Eastern folk feel that flows along nicely and has a head bobbing catchiness to it. On “Ramjet” Norton changes up the feel turning the lap steel into a jam-sessionable worthy instrument. This is also where the spoken word comes in, which seems a bit intrusive only because it is here where the bass begins to thump, and the drum loop becomes noticeable. The final track “Krautfingers” is an up-tempo jam session.
With Saz Attacks Tom Norton is still in the beginning stages of making something that is new and exciting. However Norton still has a lot of growing to do. As good as these few songs are for what they are, one can’t help but think what they could grow into when fleshed out and reworked.
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