Canadian guitar hero Nick Johnston has managed to craft an epic fourth album with ‘Remarkably Human.’ This is an instrumental record full of bold ideas, slick nuances, and epic grandeur. Sure, it demands your undivided attention in order to truly get it, but there is plenty deserving of it here.
Opener ‘Ignore Alien Orders’ begins in engaging fashion, as a panic stricken listener recounts the chilling tale of a monstrous invader via a sketchy radio transmission. This high-concept sci-fi backdrop then gives way to Johnston’s sultry guitar tone and never lets up.
Title track ‘Remarkably Human’ begins with a starry twinkling of keys that builds into one the of many riveting guitar solos scattered across this record. ‘Weakened by Winter’ is another fine example of Johnston’s mellow guitars and melancholic keys working together in flawless harmony.
This is all very expansive stuff, with songs often running long to include all of Johnston’s eccentric ideas. Each song escalates further and further away from its starting point until you realise just how far away Johnston has managed to carry you. The scope throughout is simply staggering.
Happily, Johnston also manages to keep the pomposity levels associated with progressive music down, despite the record featuring a number of songs with long runtimes.
You may not be able to pick out many memorable individual highlights, but as an album this feels suitably complete. The care that has gone into its production shines through. Some quality control could have tightened some moments however, as flourishes of sheer beauty are sometimes run into the ground through continuous repetition.
Overall though, this is a sumptuous slice of instrumental prog-rock. It is shimmering, lofty, and elegant in equal measure. Melodically, it is truly wondrous. Other-worldly. If you plan on drifting through the winter months, this would make a fitting soundtrack.
‘Remarkably Human’ by Nick Johnston is out now.
Words by Joe Philpott (@joe_philpott)