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Brett Gleason – The Dissonance

Self Released, 1/19/10

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars.

Even for the most open minded listeners, Brett Gleason’s The Dissonance might be a little hard to digest. He’s not kidding about the title — even your reviewer, a lover of metal and industrial, had a headache and felt like punching someone by the end of the first run-through.

Part of the issue is production. This is a muddy, bottom-heavy album, with only the occasional moments of nothing but solo piano to lighten up the overall grungy, depressive sound.

In its quieter moments, such as “The Escape”, The Dissonance shows some promise, taking on a tone reminiscent of a pleasingly creepy horror movie soundtrack. Unfortunately those moments don’t last for long, and soon we’re back to weirdly flat, toneless vocals and electronic organ sounds that are so dominant in the mix that they completely overwhelm the more delicate, interesting elements.

The piano playing is skillful and interesting, but it just doesn’t fit with the overall sound, leaving the impression of elements that have been randomly jammed together rather than a cohesive whole. The use of spoken samples, which when done well can add to a record, simply doesn’t work here.

On the one hand, if the goal of The Dissonance was to communicate a mood, it certainly succeeds. On the other hand, does anyone actually want to pay for an album that leaves them feeling irritable and vaguely bummed out?

Gleason seems to be aiming for a Nine Inch Nails sort of feel, but, at least on this release, he is missing by a mile, ending up with something leaden, lifeless and profoundly uninteresting.