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Album Review

THOMAS HUNTER
White China Gold

I click on this Soundcloud page to hear this guy Thomas Hunter at the behest of Steve Turnidge, who mastered this album, expecting to touch a few tracks quickly and prioritize things in my mind (meaning figuring out when I could squeeze the time out of my listening schedule to give the guy a shot) and here I sit, minutes later, opening a new file and pounding out words I'm not sure about about music I'm not sure about and wondering if I can really do this guy justice because I'm hearing a confluence of engineering and composition styles which, truth be told, are confusing and overwhelming me. I hear Stax and Motown and Greg Laswell and classical and jazz and a whole lot of other influences, but thrown together in what sounds like a hasty and haphazard fashion, crushed together and cranked out of the end of a musical meatgrinder from I don't know where. Hunter and his slew of what I can only assume are topnotch musicians (they will be listed at the end of this review because they pull off what I consider the unlikely, if not the impossible) dance through themes and variations of monumental proportions threaded together not unlike the ideas and thoughts which make their ways through my fingers without the advantage of thought. These aren't songs, really. They seem to be, but only here and there--- right now 10CC-like voices pull me away from a cacophony of jazz/rock/theater sounds and into a roller rink of Pop, but I have a feeling this won't last because nothing really does--- not on this. It lasts longer than others, though, “Who really cares” the theme and 10CC my template.

Let's see. I'm 31 minutes into a 41-minute-plus album and it's seemed like maybe ten minutes at the most. I'm still under the influence, as it were, Hunter delving into a Fifties/Sixties blues/pop moment--- and it is just a moment--- and here we go with another guitar break (Hunter segues from movement to movement with six-string bridges which are always apt and sometimes downright stunning) and into what could easily be a lost Zappa break from the mid-seventies and I'm mopping my brow.

Holy crap! What am I hearing?! Thomas Hunter is not quite like any musician or composer I have ever heard. And he throws segments and movements and themes around like a lawnmower run amok. Here he is in soul territory again. When he falls into soul, he steps beyond, with feather touches reminiscent of the golden days of Soul (and that is with a capital S for a reason). It shouldn't work but it does and does so beautifully.

If you want to know what's wrong with music these days, here is a prime example. This was posted on Soundcloud about a year ago”. I would have thought that shortly after posting, musicians and people involved in the music business would have found it and passed it along until it reached a peak. If not with the general public, with the people who supposedly care about and nurture music. How something like this sits and gathers dust is beyond my comprehension. One time through and I know I will listen again right away and again sometime later and again and again, if only to figure out what the hell is going on.

Is this the album which finally shines light on the rising Seattle renaissance, as the person who posted it says? I don't think so. This is way beyond that. White China Gold is no part of a renaissance. It stands alone. Thomas Hunter, wherever you are, thank you! You have done what so few have done--- created something so incredibly unique that I sit here listening a second time, trying to figure out how to tell people how amazing this is. It's not going to be easy because when I hear music this overwhelming, words fail me.

Mark these names. Without them, Hunter could not have pulled off this coup. Aaron Benson, Kyle O'Quin, Phillip Peterson, Jacob Hoffman, Zana Geddes, Sam Anderson, Devin Ensze, Bobby Parker, and Nate Mooter. I would say take pride in what you have accomplished, but I am sure you already do.

Stream White China Gold here. Then buy it. You'll need many listens to really hear what is going on, but the journey will be worth it.


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