Monday, June 23, 2008

A Tomato A Day - The moon is green

Fresh from Public Eyesore comes Brian Poloncic recording as A Tomato A Day (helps keeps the tornado away) with The moon is green (PE106). Poloncic is an Omaha musician who falls into the outsider artist/musician category (Daniel Johnson is a close parallel) - as defined in Wikipedia it is 'music performed either by social outsiders, who have no or few associates in the mainstream music business, or by musicians who choose to live and work in seclusion, often due to compromising behavioral or psychological conditions'. Outsiders are not always outside - Syd Barrett is also cited - and their art (often visual) can be highly sought and collected. Poloncic has been in and out of hospitalis, diagnosed with schizophrenia, andwrote lo-fi music distributed by cassette in the 90s. He moved into more experimental music but has recently moved back to song writing, and this short album (possibly originally intended to be 10" vinyl based on some comments on the web) has emerged.

But the music should not be sought because of its source but should stand on its own as music. And here Tomato succeed admirably as it is a gentle, lo-fi, folkish gem. Poloncic plays guitar and percussion, in addition to singing; and is joined by David Downing on cello, Allen Hug synth and Dave Norodin bass to create a smooth engaging sound. The acoustic guitar is to the fore, supported by percussion and Poloncic's voice which is soft, mostly low in the mix and somewhat indistinct, but with an edge that at times reminded me of Neil Young or Roger McGuinn - it is fragile and vulnerable, but not weak or broken. The synth and bass add generally subtle hints, but it is the cello that draws this album to its heights: the warmth and depth of its note are a wonderful addition. Without the cello this would be just another folky guitar album, but the instrument is allowed to stretch through the songs and the timbre suits the softness of Poloncic's approach.

In terms of the seven songs, they are lyrical musically with well placed and mixed components - the percussion entering at the right time, finely balanced cello solos. Moonshine is a gentle opener, the pace builds into Silver fox, with more yearning to the voice and some nice little picks that sound almost electronic. Winter wind is bright; Halo has clearer lyrics sung more strongly and a captivating guitar melody. The highest kite is another strong clear vocal, while electric guitar features in In a book with a dense rhythm - and here is the first really clear reference in the lyrics to sanity. Finally, Build a town, that recalled early Cat Stevens, and the voice/guitar/cello play beautifully in parallel.

This is not a curio, but a very strong lofi/folk release that is just too short - but well worth spending some time with. Lets hope for a longer one next time.

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