‘Skommel’ by Imaginary Tricks (Album)
A one-man project exploring sound and poetry in a quest for enlightenment – an experiment that only sometimes hits its mark
One-man band Mike Visser is the brains behind Imaginary Tricks. The man is obsessed with the quest to find something stranger, stronger and free. He does this by building multiple layers of complex sound, coated in lyrical depth. Those layers are the life-force behind this psych-rock/pop project. Visser learnt how to push his vocals in California band Frank Jordan. Imaginary Tricks is his next step into the abyss of life as a musician. It seems like adventure is in his blood.
The song No Ordinary Guy documents his father’s migration from South Africa to the United States. In a paint-by-numbers of his life, the song starts with vocals and guitar to set the scene, before the disjointed drums and sharp snare join in to liven things up. All relatively normal, until the invasion of wah-wahs, Doppler effects and Wurlitzer keyboards. Like it was going to be normal!
The songs on Skommel are a representation of the world inside Visser’s mind. It’s a world of endless colours, thoughts, dreams and conversations. Night Owl is a perfect example of this. It’s an explosion of pop that reminds us of the importance of being free.
Lights Out takes a more serious tone; something that is becoming more common in the pop scene, and rightfully so. The song underlines the shocking distribution of wealth in the Western world. Its electro drum beat is addictive, but the smooth harmony between vocal and drums doesn’t last long – there is a medley of instruments and sounds that spice things up. It’s hard to tell whether all that layering is constructive, or if it’s just messy.
The album continues in this vein from start to finish, luring you in with its subtle charm. It’s seductive and sensual until, of course, the bashing of any instrument Visser has to hand. The randomness in the songwriting must be calculated and come from a thoughtful space, but that can’t always be heard.
You must hand it to Visser, he knows himself and the sound he wants to create. The problem is: will the rest of the world appreciate his bizarre context, or will it all fall by the wayside?
Verdict: Ambitious songwriting