your music to the world!
- REVIEW #2
Michael Lombardo (a.k.a. Pilot of Style)
- FIVE SONG SNIPPETS
this site's AUDIO
section finally became a reality, I really hoped I (and fans of
independent /self-produced artists, in general) would get a chance
to hear an assortment of creative, evocative musicintimate
works that never went through the filtration process
(e.g., over-production, rearrangement, etc.) required to make tracks
radio-ready, for instance. In addition to wanting to
hear peoples' songs played/recorded in their purest state (e.g.,
solo guitar and voice), I particularly hoped to come across artists
capable of multi-tracking themselves in a manner similar to the
way a painter blends colors and intermingles different shapes in
order to bring to life the image they see in their head. I'm talking
about using an assortment of instruments and sounds to create a
vibe, as opposed to layering loads of different tracks to
create a crushing groove (though that's obviously cool too).
Personally, I dig music that's not dependent upon the groove to
get its point across... But I'm getting ahead of myself... :) In
short, when I first listened to the five snippets Michael Lombardo
(a.k.a., Pilot of Style) uploaded from his self-produced
disc Screaming Consciousness last June, I knew this was a
guy who posessed many of the qualities I so admired in self-contained
musicians. I felt honored to hear
his music then, just as I feel honored to write about it now.
20-year-old psychology major at UC Davis, Michael Lombardo started
playing guitar at the age of 16, first picking up the instrument
on (big surprise) Halloween, right before his 17th birthday. Initially
inspired to devolop as a musician by bands like Pearl Jam (which,
from reading interviews with Mike McCready, turned him on to Jimi
Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Led Zeppelin), Lombardo's fascination
with music making took a huge upswing after hearing the soul-cleansing
sounds of Red Hot Chili Peppers' John Frusciante. On
around New Years of 1999, explains Lombardo, I heard
BloodSugarSexMagik and was totally awestruck by everything.
I read every single thing I could get my hands on about John Frusciante
and the Peppers and sort of consumed myself with that music and
their way of thinking. Hearing that album really made a huge change
in how I saw and viewed making music. Frusciante inspired me to
do things like consume myself in music, and be really dedicated
to being a good musician. I taught myself alot of music theory and
how to read music. No one really ever showed me the way to do things;
I learned from my ear, books, and watching.
self-taught as a guitarist for his first three years of playing,
shortly after Michael Lombardo's material was made available on
page, the guitarist began seeking instruction from an outside source.
summer starting June 25, will be the first time anyone will be showing
me stuff on guitar, Lombardo states. I'm taking a guitar
class at Sacramento City Community College. The instructor is a
guy about your age named Kurt Shiflet, who graduated from GIT, and
studied under [jazz guitar legend] Pat Martino.
for what motivated Michael Lombardo to take matters into his own
handswrite all his own songs and play all the instruments
on his recordingshe offers the following all-too-familiar
was in 2 bands before but nothing came of it; nothing substantial
in the way of good music or expression, mostly because the other
band members were more concerned about the money and fame aspect
of being a musician or being in a band, and not the actual music
and artistic expression part of it. So as a result of nothing happening
I took it upon myself to do things myself and make music myself.
Other artists similarly interested in going the self-contained,
do-it-yourself route might also enjoy reading a bit about Lombardo's
highly-personal, creative processthe method he primarily employs
to conceive multi-part songs from scratch. I
do this Frank Zappa sort of thing called 'air sculptures,' where
you just record anythingyou just play and sculpt the air around
songs just come out of nowhere, from on-the-spot improvisation,
then are structured later. That's sort of the basis of how the ideas
I don't really do the whole 'sit down and write a song' type thing.
I have never sat down with the intention of writing anything. So
there are periods, long periods where nothing comes out and other
times when the stuff just overflows. All the music came to me while
I was playing guitar or like noodling around. Some songs even came
from jams I had with other people.
of musical artists like John Frusciante (particularly Froosh's stream-of-consciousness
work on solo outings like Nianda La'Des and Smile from
the Streets You Hold), Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd (and the solo
work of the band's one-time frontman, Syd Barrett), and Lou Reed
will most likely find a kinship with Lombardo's well-crafted creations.
And, really, trying to pull names out of a hat to arrive at names
this artist sounds similar to is futile. His influences are
simply too numerous to name, and he's still evolving.
To be fair, all I can do is decribe in a few words how I felt listening
to the excerpts of tracks posted on this site. And really, I'm kind
of bugged at myself for not writing about these from a first
impact standpoint. I wish I wrote this up right after I heard
'em! (*sniffle*) Anyways... here goes!
I should also add that, if your listening experience requires that
all elements of a recording be perfectly in-time and in-tune, keep
in mind the nature of these recordings to begin with: raw, improvised,
and pretty in-the-moment (i.e., try to enjoy these excerpts for
their ideas and vibe, as opposed to execution.) K?
in the Sky (Excerpt)
excerpt is pulled from near the end of the song, and it first struck
me as being somewhat Pink Floyd-like. Great delay-drenched, clean-tone
Strat playing. I think the chorus (the vocal/guitar interplay at
excerpt's end) is great. FYI, the guitar solo at the end of this
track (excluded from this excerpt) goes on for another minute (at
least) before the song ends. Great stuff! Of course, the bastard
in me thinks that the scale Lombardo used for this tasty lead should've
been the Mixolydian mode (he used straight major)... Could I be
any more annoying? Nevertheless, fans of Billy Corgan's playing
on the Smashing Pumpkins track Hummer (outro solo) will
surely dig this. People might also think of this tone as being somewhat
similar to the one used in the Blind Melon song No Rain.
excerpt is the opening segment of the song. At first, I thought
the intro octaves bit was a little long, but who cares?
By the time the palm-muted guitars (augmented by the original octaves
guitar playing dissonant doublestops) come in, this rocker starts
rolling! Sort of has a trippy Jane's Addiction vibe, to me. And
I said I wasn't gonna compare this material to other artists'
work!!! (*sigh*) But really, I'm not. When I cite specific
artists in this part of the review, I'm really trying
to approximate (in wordsyuck!) the overall vibe the song created
think this excerpt is taken from the midpoint of the song, which
develops more to the end. With the exception of the opening chordal
figure (somewhat akin to Miles Om Tackett's great clean funk-like
guitar work with the band Inclined), this portion of Sentimental
Atoms posesses somewhat of a Hendrix vibe. (No, not the Little
Wing, Bold as Love Castles Made of Sand
kind...) I love how the guitar riff that accompanies the vocal alternates
between two single notes and an ascending unison bend figure (played
by numerous guitars).
Painting (Excerpt #1)
excerpt is part of an interlude in the song. Totally hit me like
what Jeff Beck might've sounded like during the Blow By Blow
era, if he wrote an instrumental bit after being up for three days
straight. Kinda sick-sounding, in a good way. Love the quasi-atonal
accompaniment and bizarre bassline.
Painting (Excerpt #2)
movie house dubbed soundtrack to a black & white silent filmif
they were still doing that today! I dunno...The multiple guitars
kind of create the effect of a horn/strings section... I really
like this bit!
gifted sonic craftsperson, guitar heads in particular will likely
want to hear about the gear Lombardo employed to sculpt his sounds.
So, here ya go: I use a Fender Stratocaster and Tele, both
American. My amp is a JTM 45 reissue through a Marshall cab with
Celestion Greenback speakers. Although alot of the guitar sounds
were recorded also with a small Marshall Park amp, solid state and
I can't remember the model. Or the guitar was recorded direct. I
also use a Boss DD-3 delay, Dunlop Uni-vibe, Analogman Clone Chorus,
MXR phase 90, Dunlop 535Q wah, Ibanez TS-9, Ibanez SD-9 sonic distortion,
modified fuzzface by the analogman, and I used a Korg PX-2 Pandora
for weird sounds. All the music was recorded through a Tascam 4
track portastudio, and a SM-57. It was mixed on Cakewalk with my
friend who added compression and reverb on stuff.
Lombardo doesn't have a website where more of his works can be heard,
let alone ordered in CD form. But that doesn't mean those who dig
his stuff are out of luck. I
don't sell the cds I make of music. If people want it, I will give
it to them free. I haven't made one dime off of anything I have
made musically. If people want a copy of my music they can email
me saying they want one. It's only there to be good for people.
Really it's my whole entire lifewhat you hear is the result
of someone's actual life, which is a trip for me. I hope it makes
a positive difference in the world somehow.
only excerpts of Lombardo's work are posted on this site, it should
be made clear that Screaming Consciousness is a full-length
disc17 songs, with a total playing time of 71:35.
that this cat's so young and so driven, I'm certain we can expect
loads of great musical art from Michael Lombardo in the future.
Heck, I know he's already recorded a whole 'nother disc's worth
of material, which I recall him describing as being much better
(at least in terms of guitar playing) than the material exhibited
here. But again, let me stress that it's not the guitar playing
that motivated me to write about Lombardo and his music on this
site. I think his musical ideas (irrespective of instrument)
are fresh and pure, and fly in the face (thankfully) of all the
trend-jumping, flavor-of-the-month acts splattered across the radio
dial these days. That's a good thing! And I'd love to hear more
from him, perhaps with more focus on condensing his songs to their
bare essentials (like these killer excerpts). I guess what I mean
is, I did find some of the excluded portions of the songs
presented here (i.e., parts not excerpted), as well as bits of some
others on Screaming Consciousness to be a bit meandering
on occasion... But of course, that's just what it was: Screaming,
in stream-of-consciousness form. Pretty ridiculous to think about
editing that... I pray that doesn't offend him! And, really,
I also think that listening to, feeling, and getting
good music often requires patience... And everything on the disc
is good music, IMHO. Lots of people just don't take the time
required to find that stuff though... I just want what's best for
him, and for as many people as possible to hear what he's capable
of. I think his ideas could shake up a lot of people.=
probably add more to this as things come to me. For now, enjoy!
And pleeeeease lend him your ears!! Thanks for reading!
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