Phantom Theory, Gunning For Tamar - Split EP

Owain Paciuszko 07/04/2010

Rating: 3/5

Oxford bands Phantom Theory and Gunning For Tamar (formerly Rise East Strike West), who have both received reviews from me individually in the past, have hooked up to share disc space on this split release.

Phantom Theory kick things off with the alternative-dance vibe of the simple yet fun Trancedog, with repetition of the phrase 'You know I'll kill for less' driving proceedings and building with competiting droll and screamed vocals. Meanwhile Playground is an erratic number with time signatures akin to Dave Grohl's experiments on Foo Fighters' One By One record, except tempered by a sneery indie voice.

Gunning For Tamar have a mellower vibe to their music, and the chunkily titled The Organs. The Senses. The Muscles. The Memories is a Mathy and melodic tune that sees lead singer Jon Wallis sounding very Matt Bellamy, except fortunately not mangled in a mess of space-rock swagger. It draws itself towards a downbeat yet climatic conclusion, making way for the piano-driven Norse Blood where Wallis' voice strains a touch too hard against the lighter jazzy sound and doesn't quite compliment the music strongly enough until things take a turn for instrumental griminess around the two minute mark.

Gunning For Tamar take up more room on the see-saw, but ultimately it's the playful Phantom Theory who make the strongest impact. Both bands still feel like they're feeling around and starting to grow in interesting directions, and this split is an interesting enough diversion in route to someone taking their first giant leap.