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Sonic Stomp Studios

May 10

With so many musicians these days jumping ship and forming side projects and doing guest spots at every opportunity, what was once an exciting and almost dangerous proposition has now become run-of-the-mill and expected.

Not that there’s anything wrong with a musician experimenting and collaborating with other artists, but these days the novelty has well truly worn off and the reasons behind such a move are becoming increasingly blurred.

Which is why when I heard that Corey Glover had started a new project called Sonic Universe my initial reaction was why? After such a glorious career with Living Colour why put yourself out there in a different light with different musicians and possibly different music?

But after my early selfish outburst, I came to the conclusion it really is none of my business, and as a fan of Glover and consumer of music, I should be more thankful that another project means more regularity of releases.

For Sonic Universe Glover has teamed up with Adrenaline Mob guitarist Mike Orlando, who I can honestly say is a name that has not crossed my radar to this point. But, if Corey Glover rates the guy then who am I to pass judgement?

Starting with I Am Sonic Universe turn up the groove to 11, Orlando slicing his way around the guitar in a dramatic build-up that allows Glover an effortless transition back into the spotlight.

This is a groovy as fuck hard rock number with great backups and harmonies and an infectious as fuck swirling guitar riff that spins you almost out of control. It is hard rock to blues in all of its sultry glory, with subtle timing changes and musical shuffles combining to deliver what I have already stored in the Top 10 songs for 2024 sub-section of my brain. And then things REALLY kick off with an unexpected breakdown of almost jazz undertones that struts and oozes all the charm of a Motown club back in the 1960s.

A tasty bass line from Booker King menaces just below the surface, taking itself on a sonic journey that coaxes an awesome guitar solo full of attitude and contempt. This quickly transforms into a veritable free-for-all for a beautiful moment of time until Glover slides back to the mic and lets out a scream that few in this industry are capable of before crooning to the finish line and coming to an abrupt and exhausting halt.

The title track fires up next courtesy of a frenetic drum intro that soon gives way to a chunky guitar riff and overlapping tweaks of urgency. Delicately places vocal silhouettes form on the landscape and continue at a tempered level as Glover arrives in commanding fashion and sets about assembling and dismantling the number with consummate ease.

There’s actually quite a lot going on here and it’s all good. Fucken good.

Guitar twangs reverberate from one ear to the other luring you into a world of sonic desolation that is carried through the valleys courtesy of Glover whose voice rises and falls and takes control with monotonous ease and precision that only accentuates the plethora of piercing blasts as told through Orlando’s guitar wizardry.

If these guys haven’t played together a hell of a lot in the lead-up to recording this album then they must be kindred spirits because the proficiency and cohesion on display here is of the highest order.

And we’re only two tracks in…

Turn A Blind Eye eases to life on the back of a repeating guitar riff and sonic exuberance before the riff gains traction and spices things up considerably.

Drums join in the fun and just as it seems Glover might sit this one out he saunters up to the microphone and adds his feelings to the track. A slightly aggressive bout of vocals comes as a shock at first but sounds as though it was there for a purpose and once the initial shock wears off glover has swept well past those feelings and returned to the soaring and deliberate vocals that punctuate his work.

The harsher vocals return sporadically, underscored with moments of majesty provided by a timely guitar solo that crushes without overstaying its welcome.

By the time Turn A Blind Eye fades to its conclusion I am definitely seeing Glover in a fresh new light of pent-up aggression that, for mine, would be more than welcome should it wish to rear its head more as the album progresses.

My Desire is straight-up rock with a stuttering guitar run awash with forceful drumming that winds itself up before retreating into a more blues-tinged number that survives on healthy dosings of rock. It’s a delicately balanced amalgamation of styles and genres that usually survive more on their own merits rather than coming together. But, again, it works, and works fucken well.

The chunky guitar continues, complete with tempo and timing changes that have already left me in their wake but it’s the way Glover handles this song vocally that impresses the most. His pace speeds up and slows down in keeping with the moods created by his bandmates with his voice just as powerful a tool as any amplified instrument could get.

Whisper To A Scream has a massive blues feel as it kicks off at a steady, tempered pace that almost floats along with the soft interplay of guitar.

Glover treats the song with the respect it deserves by easing into his work and singing within himself to create a soulful and unobtrusive vibe that settles into a nice, casual groove. It is a definite – but welcome – shift of pace, while still providing a vehicle from which Glover can explore another side of his vocal charisma.

This is one of those songs that has you subconsciously closing your eyes as the guitar sings softly into the distance, flowing with rhythmic grace and dexterity.

As another soul-filled guitar solo works its way into the back end of Whisper To A Scream, it is easy to find yourself lost in the moment of verse and comfort, swept away by a tidal wave of sonic submissiveness. It’s not somewhere I usually find solace in, but when the music is this good, sometimes such things can’t be helped.

Higher bursts out the blocks next, ramping things up considerably in a whirlwind of drums and guitar that entices a far more upbeat approach from Glover who shifts gears effortlessly. The back-ups here are on point and fill out what is already a meaty slab of music.

Glover has fired right up here, quickening his pace as well as his intensity. Around the two-and-a-half-minute mark, a wicked breakdown alters the whole landscape, adding further fuel to an already raging fire of frenetic guitar playing and thunderous drumming that switches back into groove almost too easily. It’s almost like the guys are showing off now.

Life rumbles into earshot before settling into a more restrained tune atop swirling, almost psychedelic guitars. These soon settle into a more tempered groove that provides a level platform from which Glover can begin his next vocal journey.

By now, Orlando seems to be throwing guitar solos into the mix whenever he feels the urge, which is by no means a bad thing. Rather than play elongated, extended solos for the sake of being in a position to do so, his are much more worthy additions to each piece of music that steer things into unchartered waters momentarily before steadying the ship and rejoining the crew.

Come What May shuffles up next on the back of a wicked drum roll that hints at another harder-edged track but is soon pulled back into line by Glover’s choice of delivery. But while he lays down more soothing tones, Orlando and drummer Taykwuan Jackson have other ideas, continuing their up-tempo battle that eventually forces Glover to match their intensity. It becomes an intriguing battle of wills that sees all parties conforming to the direction of their bandmates at momentary junctures before heading back out on their own once more but somehow all coming back to the same point.

It’s hard to explain and I’m thinking I might have just made it seem even more confusing so best you take a listen for yourself to see what I am trying to say.

I Want It All starts on the back of almost fuzzy guitars that emphatically announce this is NOT a cover of Queen. Instead, it is another rocking slab of meatiness from Sonic Universe that keeps the grooves coming. Every track so far has had something special and stood out from the others for varying reasons and I Want It All is no different.

While maintaining a strong connection with blues-infused rock goodness this song frequently ventures into other territories, allowing the nature of music itself to dictate the sonic direction.

A guitar-led breakdown interrupts the status quo around the three-minute mark and settles in for the long haul without becoming overly dominant. This allows Glover to dictate things on his own capable terms, complete with a trademark extended section of notes that highlights his vocal range and ability.

And then we come to the end with Beautiful Disunity and perhaps the most schizophrenic song on the album.

It fires into life spreading in a plethora of differing directions that is held together by a fast-paced and urgent drum pattern and stuttering guitars. The song speeds up and slows down with beautiful irregularity, never settling into a comfortable level due to the intense and driving underscore that is made all the more sporadic as Glover wails and screams with controlled precision at haphazard intervals.

There seems to be no rhyme nor reason to this track but somehow it manages to sweep you up in an avalanche of emotions that only intensifies as a quick as fuck guitar solo forces its way in, taking you almost to breaking point.

In a good way.

Glover sounds like he is just getting warmed up which bodes well for future albums from Sonic Universe but for now the great man has made me re-evaluate my earlier opinions on side projects.

Sonic Universe is destined to be much more than that and with Glover’s declaration to me in a recent interview that he plans to make this a touring band as well one can only pray to the Gods of Rock that Australia is already in his sights.

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