AMN Reviews: Jason Blake – The Compromise Rationale (2022; Wayfarer Records)

Jason Blake is a Chicago-based Warr guitarist, and The Compromise Rationale is a solo release of ambient progressive metal. Despite being the only performer, Blake gives the album a thick, rich sound. This is due, at least in part, to the very nature of his instrument, a 12-string touch guitar on which bass and electric guitar parts can be played simultaneously. He may have employed some overdubbing as well, since there are often more than two distinct voices.

Contentwise, Blake combines arpeggiated chords, distorted riffs, and layered drones in various arrangements. He provides rhythmic and melodic elements but replaces what would have otherwise been a percussion track with ambient tones lingering in the background. As an example, Euphoria with Repercussions begins with said arpeggiations and a background drone, then is joined by two overdriven guitar-like lines, one riffing while the other explores a slow theme. Blake varies these elements throughout the track’s seven minutes.

This piece, and the entire album, has a moody and dark thematic character. Blake avoids any notion of guitar heroics and instead focuses on a more holistic, cinematic approach with haunting undercurrents and occasional hypnogogic passages. Thus, while his restrained energy works as background music, there is more than enough detail and compositional sophistication to keep your ears busy across multiple fully-attentive listenings.

The Compromise Rationale will be released on September 23 by Wayfarer Records.

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