Whatzup
Reflex 2005
20to20Soundesign Studios

by Jason Hoffman Reflex 2005
Momma always used to say that life is like a Reflex sampler: you never know what you’re gonna get. That is, she would have if she listened to more than Barbra Streisand records. For those not in the know, like Momma, Reflex 2005 is a snapshot of the various projects recorded by Bob Phillips at 20to20Soundesign in the past year. Much like a neighborhood studio, (although fully stocked with pro gear) each year’s compilation feels like a stroll through eclectic streets with professionals living beside more casual musicians.

Andy Gross leads off the charge with the Steely Dan-inspired “Tira Misu.” Here soulful vocals meet Chapman stick bass, funky keys, rich harmonies, jazzy chords and clever lyrics like “The forecast calls for me to leave this place.” Chris Holly lays on a relaxed “Sunday After Noon” feel with R&B touches, lush electronic piano and a melodic touch of pleasing pop. “Another World” is an instantly engaging mid-tempo modern rock song by GM Mix Project, sporting uplifting lyrics and a squeaky-clean sound.

“For The Record” by Arto and Project 9’s “Cast Iron” take harder turns, the former with arty mod-rock tones that blend in punk and new wave and the latter being good ol’ fashioned metal with buzzing, near-thrash guitars backed by a pounding beat. Also in this vein is “Johnny Rock” by That’s What She Said, an explosively energetic seven-minute rock venture brilliantly captured live by 20to20s mobile recording equipment.

Fans of Einstein Savage will enjoy “Diamonds” by Ong, another outlet for Mark Turney’s myriad of songs. Here a carefree melody joins a smattering of non-rock instruments to create an encouraging and enjoyable Gabriel-esque outing of world class caliber. Girth bring a passive aggressive flute/nylon string combo to “Hope/Hype” before launching into a wonderfully dark rock song of guitars, piano, drums and broad vocal harmonies. “Marissa” by Matt Dutiel is a heartfelt love song of acoustic guitar, vocals, piano and muted trumpet. Although recorded in just one evening, this song is the kind of gift every girl dreams of receiving, not to mention one that I’m sure Marissa herself will remember for a lifetime.

For some reason instrumentalists flock to 20to20 like The Dixie Chicks to the unemployment line. “Reel-To-Real” by Tri-Polar is an unfortunately brief yet thoroughly disturbing horror movie soundtrack, while Geo Trio’s “Mogo” is a live recording of jazz, blues and rock combined in a dazzling display of technical and improvisational prowess.

Speaking of prowess, few can touch Jim Steele’s dramatic pacing in “Blue Ice Injection.” Opening with a chilling soundscape that transforms into a riveting 70s rock song, full of detuned lead synths and trippy beats. The sweet and emotional “Reflections” is a striking Kevin Hiatt composition for piano and violin, captured live at the main library. On the other end “Healix: Mirror One (excerpt)” by Judy Cole is three minutes of pure, calming, ringing tones. To round out the evening Phillips adds “State of Mind,” an inventive Pet Sounds outing that incorporates timpani, bells, bass harmonica, accordion and a whole orchestra to create a happy summer day.

Whether you play tuned guitars, tuning forks or tuna fish, 20to20soundesign is inhumanly eager to turn on their mondo-expensive microphones. To get a copy of Reflex 2005 contact the studio at twenty.twenty@verizon.net or 483-1926 and talk to Bob. Not only is he encouraging and very easy to work with, he’s also willing to record your cover of “The Way We Were” or “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” Ask to do “Woman In Love,” though, and there may be a surcharge.

Copyright 2006 Ad Media Inc.