“Session 1&2” by Croatian band Saddle on the Bomb, is a double album of enormous creative and artistic depth and ingenuity, and the range of beautiful, powerful and thought-provoking music is enthralling to listen to, especially if you are a guitar enthusiast. It is not for everyone, and definitely an acquired taste. The band is made up of only two members – Tomislav Poje (Drums) and Aleksandar Vrhovec (Guitar) – both of whom wrote the songs. While Vrhovec, produced, engineered, mixed and mastered the albums. My advice is to focus on the instrumental prowess on these recordings, which seem to also have sonic depth and fullness.
The combination of tracks is truly a great artistic achievement and one that will repay repeated listening. Each song reveals fascinating composition, and overall provides interesting insights into the music and the performers.
The surprising combination between the guitar and drums which often invert rhythmic and melodic interplay, is revealing and interesting. Overall one is left with the perception of Poje and Vrhovec as true artists and creators of a recording that will definitely stand the test of time.
If you’re at all curious about various forms of guitar driven music, you’ll find quite a few styles represented here all delivered with Aleksandar Vrhovec’s characteristic intensity: powerful, beautiful, tender, haunting, hypnotic, and even chaotic. Clearly this was a journey that Vrhovec needed to take in order for him to explore his own creativity beyond his past musical outings.
Alongside him, drummer Poje, who has worked with Vrhovec before, proves to be the perfect partner. His playing is hard-hitting and rhythmically solid, yet creative and nuanced, able to meander off in interesting percussive tangents without losing grip of each song’s central theme.
This is a powerful statement, both musically and thematically. Anything that Aleksandar Vrhovec works on, is a prelude to the inevitable – an exploration of sound. No matter how you look at it, “Session 1&2” is a dramatic step for the artist in a duo setting. A step that, for the true guitar fan, presents a much appreciated recording.
If Saddle on the Bomb were trying to make a bold statement with these recordings, I believe they hit the ball out of the park. I’m not going to breakdown each song, because the music speaks as a whole, for itself.
However from when you press play on track one, “Overture”, on the “Session 1” album, you understand that the band’s approach to composing is cerebral, technical and experimental, while at the same times it never lacks emotional warmth. Their contributions to expanding the language of guitar and drum playing are undoubted.
Aleksandar Vrhovec has obviously studied the music of many different styles, and his playing draws from a colorful palate of musical modes and scales. Whether leaning towards alternative, progressive or experimental rock, Saddle on the Bomb are never less than avant-garde and inventive in their approach.
At the same time, they are not averse to working up a burning groove, as can be heard on the dynamic “Sphere III” and “Terminal”. Switching to “Session 2”, is where is where instrumental guitar music takes on a whole new meaning and patient listeners will be mesmerized by the angular textures, featuring Aleksandar Vrhovec’s liquid electric guitar lines and Tomislav Poje’s kinetic drum accompaniments.
If you‘re expecting long-winded, almost endless guitar solos and maximum shredding mayhem, think again. Songs like “Marble Eye”, “Cloud Steps”, “6/6/6” and “Mammoth”, are more about the exploration of textures, tones, rhythms and melodies.
In fact these albums sound like little other guitar music on record, and are a must for fans of the instrument, as well as a striking listen for anyone else lucky enough to bump into them. “Session 1&2” by Saddle on the Bomb reveals emotional and experimental depths rarely glimpsed in this kind of instrumental music.