Renowned guitarist, producer, and composer Michael Brook has become a more visible figure during 2006 than he has been in years past. Most recently, he composed the soundtrack for Al Gore's acclaimed documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, which released back in May. And now we are treated to RockPaperScissors, which is his first solo album in over a decade.
Brook has not been idle in the years since his previous solo album and instrumental epic Cobalt Blue in 1992. But his work as producer and songwriter, as well as guitarist and collaborator, has put him in a less public light. He first came to prominence with the album Hybrid, a collaboration in 1985 with himself, Daniel Lanois, and Brian Eno. Brook reportedly learned a great deal from both Lanois, whom he began assisting in the producer's studio, and Eno, in regard to an overall approach to songwriting and production sound, which he carried with him on to his later work.
Musically, Cobalt Blue expanded on the music of Hybrid, and showcased the style of guitar work that had arisen from Brook and his compatriot musician friends, The Edge and Lanois. It was a shimmering reverb that found as much punch from controlled use of echo effects as in the strumming of strings. He followed up the album the next year with the ancillary release Live At The Aquarium. Although his fellow musicians took the sound on to more popular waters, Brook's stamp as a sound designer was unmistakable, especially as both Edge and Lanois used Brook's musical invention, the "Infinity Guitar" to help fashion much of their own sound and style.
RockPaperScissors takes a different turn and showcases how Brook has been using his talents during these past few years. It finds its direction as a soundtrack through various landscapes of texture, light, and shadow. Brook's role becomes less a part of a performance showcase (although he still handless a good portion of the musical responsibilities) and more that of a composer and architect of sound. In fact, at its core, it works best as a passport through the different styles and mediums Brook conjures for his various other musical forms.