Over the last few years, instrumental releases within the progressive rock/metal genre have been on the rise, and like with everything else, the quality of the releases vary from hit-and-miss to some absolutely amazing gems. Jay Matharu, a composer and guitarist hailing from Uppsala in Sweden, debuted recently with a full-length album inspirationally titled These Clouds Are So Undisciplined!
Well composed, arranged and wonderfully performed, These Clouds Are So Undisciplined! is an ambitious piece of largely instrumental prog fusion, with more than enough epic ideas to keep a listener engaged and attentive. Suffice to say, there is more than enough of a variety to keep the music from sounding stale or rehashed. Although Jay’s true calling lies in melody-driven progressive metal guitar, the stylistic curveballs here are fully-realized and sound great. “Ascent,” the album’s opener, is an excellent example of Matharu’s skill as a multi-faceted composer. And this skill just keeps on improving throughout the seven-track release. “Kaleidoscope” features a guest performance by Andreas Bollden, who performs an engaging trumpet solo, adding yet another layer to the already multilayered piece. Song structures seem arranged to cater to a string of individually satisfying moments, as opposed to the ideas all contributing to the overall whole of a composition. Even in the most ambitious progressive rock/jazz fusion moments, I tend to look for some of the same qualities found in conventionally good songwriting.
Obviously, much of the spotlight here is placed on Matharu’s prodigious grasp of the electric guitar. Although the album’s chuggy side doesn’t stand any bit above what we’ve already heard from that corner of prog metal, Jay Matharu makes himself out to be an absolutely brilliant fusion guitarist, possibly one of the best I’ve heard in recent years. “Breathe In, Breathe Out” might be my favourite track on the album for this very reason; Matharu’s marriage of keen instrumental wandering and tight melodic passages is gorgeous. It has to be mentioned that the song also features a fellow guitarist Nili Brosh, who grabbed an excellent opportunity to show her talent by delivering an excellent solo.
These Clouds Are So Undisciplined! is an album packed with instrumental inventiveness and technical proficiency. Jay Matharu excels here both as a composer and musician.