There are many reasons for a member of a great band to make solo
the worst of course being that he is bored with his
band and needs a fresh creative outlet. But in this case, how could
someone seriously be bored with being a lead member of one of the
greatest rock bands of all time, the incomparable Gomez? One
has to believe that Ian Ball has a far different reason for
pursuing a bit of solo time
perhaps he just had occasion to
get together with some different folks and write a few songs and make
a little record and then decide that while Gomez was resting he'd
go out on tour and play some acoustic shows and introduce a bunch
of unsuspecting Gomez fans to some of Gomez's b-side catalog along
with some of his new songs and just have a good time of it all anyway.
That's more along the lines of what Who Goes There would seem
The record is filled with a trove of bouncy, lithesome songs with
Ball's recognizable character spread all over them. The slower, folksy,
Looper-esque rambling of "Sweet Sweet Sleep" gives
way to the poppy organ and light drums of "Automatic Message"
easily, giving the world a glimpse of exactly what Ball probably brings
to the Gomez table. The lilting acoustic guitars of "The Elephant
Pharmacy" and their accompanying vocal harmonies are very reminiscent
of Brian Wilson's Smile era recordings, while the lyrics
seem a toned-down version of "Get Myself Arrested". Ball
breaks out his Beatles riffing on "Who Goes There",
an over ten minute epic pop tune that spends time meandering all over
the map, but in a coherent and highly musical fashion. Getting a bit
groovy on "When We Were Cool", Ian lays back and lets the
vibe flow freely before dropping into the near ambient stillness of
Regardless of the exact reason why Ian Ball felt it necessary to
step outside of Gomez for a solo outing, the fact is that he has created
a record of beautiful pop songs that are as easy to sing along to
as any he's been involved with before. The collection of collaborators
on Who Goes There are mostly relative unknowns, and all Americans,
which lends a bit more mystery to the equation. The music is mostly
sunny, and makes a perfect soundtrack for an early fall day
and, as I'm sure you'll agree, should carry over nicely into the spring
season, as well.
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