This is what it’s all about right here. I love to find obscure artists that just blow me away, and I do receive lots of submissions through the website. This new solo instrumental album from Josh Kay really caught my eye with this fantastic cover (created by Josh himself), and the music fits it in both quality and style. You really need to check out “Absence of Time”.
Josh Kay hails from Portland, Oregon. While he is primarily a guitarist, he does handle all the instruments, programming, mixing, and mastering on this album. His style of music is actually difficult to peg. It’s not metal, though Josh’s soloing really feels influenced by prog metal to me. This album is more like prog rock, though, with lots of finger work and not so much in the way of riffing. I feel like I can hear all sorts of guitar styles at play here, so even his influences aren’t worn on his sleeve, though I do admit I heard some Hackett influence in one song. I really admire that individuality.
Josh’s guitar phrasing is so addictive to me. An instrumental album needs to be actively interesting and quite eventful in order to avoid sinking into a pit of boring. Josh has more than just guitar skills: He has the ability to craft songs that need no vocals, but somehow still feel structured and melodic. His songs are all tightly performed, concisely written, and do not overstay their welcome.
I’m also impressed with his keys and drums. While Josh admits this is a guitar-centric album, I feel that the keys and drumming, though subtle and not overplayed, add so much to the experience. His drumming is concise with split-second turns in the beat, and his keys are usually used to set the mood or atmosphere of a song. You will especially hear this in the last half of the album.
Honestly, his overall style reminds me something of last year’s “Pulse of Nature” from Javier Sepulveda in that Josh forms melodies and truly interesting guitar licks that draw you into the experience. “Absence of Time” feels very much like a connected body of work, almost like a concept album, even though there are no lyrics with which to make that determination. The album, though, feels whole and satisfying, though it is not all that long.
The album starts off with two good songs, but really gets going at the title track, “Absence of Time”. It doesn’t let up for the rest of the album. I think “Absence of Time” is where we really start to hear the keys on this album, too, and they mesh perfectly with Josh’s guitar phrasing. You really start to get an “epic” feeling on this track, and it builds to a somber conclusion at the end of the album.
“Solace in Sleep” might be my favorite track. Josh shows off his acoustic skills here, but there is this electric guitar break that follows the acoustics that really just puts my neck hairs on end. Additionally, the drumming and keyboards on this track are probably the most dynamic and interesting on the whole album. “The Legato Gestapo” is another track with fantastic guitar lines, but these are swirling and charging as compared to the more delicate ones on the previous track. Finally, another favorite track is “The Sixth Extinction”. It has this subdued, almost electronic tone to it that interplays with the guitar soloing. It’s not a gloomy track by any means, but it does have this certain sober weight to it that lies on your heart. From the title track to the final piece, there is this wonderful flow that really makes sense.
So, Josh Kay has the skills, but he has the passion and heart, too. That’s one of the primary takeaways from his music: that he creates this music out of love and passion for his art form. His enthusiasm is on display for the world here, and it bleeds even into the cover art and excellent production. Josh is a fantastic talent that deserves more of a spotlight.