Zenith is the latest release from Alex Murphy aka Tonewood Sky. Murphy has been releasing a good amount of music on Bandcamp for the last couple of years and I think Zenith is his most cohesive work to date. The ideas and songs feel fluid and balanced. As much as I liked the music the recording quality seemed to take an odd step back. I compared the quality a number of times from Zenith to Thoughts Within and the difference seems fairly obvious. Especially in terms of the drum sound.
Recording quality aside the songs are still easy to enjoy. Murphy has a knack for creating compelling instrumental music and is usually at his best when he is experimenting with different timing patterns and transitions that you might not expect.
The opener “Shadows On the Moon” contains match rock style guitar progressions, fluid bass and a drumbeat that doesn’t change very often. The guitars are the focal point and there is certainly some inventive playing happening especially towards the end of the song.
“From the Darkness” has a unique array of sounds. What sounds like arpeggiated synths follows the guitar and bass. It’s quite hypnotic at points. Some like songs like “Manic Mind” and “With the Times” are fleshed out songs, which go into all different types of territory.
The arguable highlight is “It's Nice to Be Free” which contains some of his best guitar playing. I was reminded of Explosions in the Sky at points. The song is very dynamic as it contains soft dips and a number of more intense sections. He closes strong with an energetic jam entitled “PM to AM.”
I felt that Zenith really hammered down a sound for Murphy. Zenith is arguably his best work to date but also seems more defined. I have a feeling his best work is still to come
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