Tim Ryan O’Kane: MONSTEROUS! – A FRIGHTENINGLY SUPERB CD
O’Kane is from Brooklyn, New York and has released his 6 Song EP “The Monsters Kiss” in 2011. There is little information in the internet about Tim and unfortunately his website is currently under construction, however his sleeve notes explain that he plays keyboards and vocals.
The EP sets things off with “Lullaby”: a gentle hooky, harmonically rich intro piece that sets the tone for this epic concept CD. Then, just as quickly as you have been lured into feeling this is going to be a slick commercially colossal collection of tunes we are thrown into a nightmare-ish rhythmic trance where bizarrely colourful imagery is mixed with hypnotic beats and Tim’s ever-present rock solid vocal. The chorus’s of the second track switch straight back to the harmonized and melodically rich, catchy hooks akin to the opener. Stirring stuff …and I can’t help but feel privy to something both original AND accessible at the same time. The vocals in the verses of the second track reminded me instantly of “Alice In Chains” – Jar of Flies/SAP EP’s and I’m sure that Tim has been influenced here. The Nightmare continues with the laid back funk groove of the third track “Teeth fall Out” The sickening imagery totally contrasted by Tim’s sugary sweet vocal – counterbalanced with female vocal, before you know it the track begins to shift gear spiraling out of control. Emotionally, we are drawn, taught, awashed in the screams of a maelstrom of tortured souls. The fourth song: “Trying to Fly” leans on a spacious programmed rhythm pattern careful balanced with a haunting piano melody and Tim’s exquisite vocal rising into falsetto and dancing eerily and effortlessly over the top of it all. Even when he returns to the major key for the choruses, he still manages to keep the mood dark and gothic. A Reznor-esque guitar solo creeps into the mix and slowly takes over – with the repetitive riffs adding to the hypnotism of it all. The next track “Dis(rem)embered” somehow manages to be darker, despite the tips and nods to the nineteen-eighties. A Vocoder or strict pitch-correction has been applied to the falsetto vocal and this brings a modern touch over the top of all the eighties kitche. This is perhaps the most commercial track, yet it is fundamental to the story-telling of the EP. The final track begins with an engine starting up and driving off – together with lo-fi percussion and sampled sitar. The vocal work here is straight out of theatre-land and if it wasn’t for the drum work I could imagine this as part of a staged musical. Not to take anything away from the production, this serves to show Tim’s flexibility and songwriting prowess. Indeed the vocal melody cycles in the brain and leaves you singing it long after the CD finishes. As a finale, this is the perfect track to end on and the monstrous guitar solo work rubberstamps the ending and leaves you totally blown away by what your have just experienced.
It is hard to find much of anything wrong with this CD – The production is so jam-packed with instrumentation and sonic embellishments that at times the music seems over-intense. I’m a massive fan of the concept album idea – and anyone brave enough to take on the challenge of story telling across multiple songs gets a huge thumbs-up in my book. It is a shame that Tim didn’t choose to expand his ideas into a full-length album, as that would’ve really been the icing on the cake. That said there is so much substance in this music that by the end of it, it feels like you’ve listened to an entire album anyway!
Overall this is a very impressive release by Tim Ryan O’Kane. An obviously creative and musically astute songwriting genius. It’s a real pity that at the time of writing, his website was under construction because I was curious to find out if he has released any previous material or if there were any plans for more. This is an artist that I will definitely be keeping an eye out for in the future. If this is in fact a debut offering, then who knows what kind of substance he will be producing in the coming years!!
This review was written by Neil Thomas for the Rock n Roll View.