[Review] Scaphoid – Absent Passages

Scaphoid is the moniker used by the multi-instrumentalist Matt Hobart, coming from Austin, Texas who proposes a sound with many influences that starting from a Progressive Metal base inserts elements of Post Rock, Space, Djent above all. After a first EP dated 2016, on October 9, 2020 he releases “Absent Passages” via Shunu Records, containing 8 medium-long length instrumental tracks. This debut presents a sonic variety that ranges between the different genres mentioned above, making difficult to insert the album into a specific genre, allowing the artist to show technique and quality on several fronts. More melodic passages alternate with harder and more powerful ones, just as more linear structures mix with more intricate ones, whose the common denominator can be the Progressive in its various forms. The opener “Marauder” immediately immerses us in the sounds of the album with soft clean guitar arpeggios and a soft rhythmic session. As the track flows and the guitar layers are added, a track takes shape with solid riffs and solo parts that intertwine with leading bass lines. A good opening track where the guitar is the protagonist with dreamy solo parts that create a good malgamation. “Shores of Ruin” has a similar beginning to the previous one with dreamy acoustic guitar arpeggios this time, to which the rhythm session is immediately added. The acoustic and electric guitar sounds that are layered and intertwined create an excellent melodic section that interacts with precision with the rhythmic structure created by the drum and bass. In the final part of the piece the intensity increases with the insertion of darker melodies that accompany us to the closing. In “None So Blind” after an ambient and ethereal intro begins the sound layering work that Matt is getting used to on this album. As in the previous ones there is an intertwining of clean and electric guitars and riffs and solos of good workmanship, and in addition in this song the layers that are added are really many. Playing everything one person is taken for granted that you work with various layers that are added to each other, but the artist here shows a noteworthy familiarity and the result is excellent. “Melpomene” is slower in rhythm than the previous ones and with darker tones, while the work on the layers is always precise, with the addition of a pleasant piano. The guitar solo part is also good, and the piece can be listened to from beginning to end with delicacy and pleasure. “Celestial Ego” has more distorted and deeper sounds in the guitar and bass, while the rhythm session acquires intensity as the song flows. Matt’s skillful layering work is always the protagonist, and the amount of sounds he manages to amalgamate is impressive. The solo and rhythmic parts blend perfectly, while the piano is highlighted in the second part in a skilful interweaving with the guitars. “The Coldness of Clarity” begins with pleasant and sweet piano notes on an almost spatial atmospheric carpet, while slowly building a soft rhythmic session. In the middle of the song it transforms itself acquiring power and distorted guitar parts are inserted that soon give way to pleasant piano notes that become the protagonists of the melodies until the end. “The Narrows” is the shortest track on the album, with a hypnotic bass and guitar layers with dark melodies and a rhythmic session that emphasizes the darkness of the track. Closes the album “Infrastricken” which is also the longest track with its over 14 minutes of duration, an epic that begins with massive distorted and dark riffs of electric guitar. Even the rhythmic session starts immediately strong, while it is a succession of additions of sound layers that showcase Matt’s great skill in drafting the songs. Continuous tempo changes, riffs and solo parts that dialogue perfectly and give life to a song that by itself sums up the sound concept of Scaphoid in great detail and the work on the soundtracks at its best. A sliding album, which can be listened to with pleasure from start to finish, despite the quantity and complexity of the layers that are added, it needs more plays to grasp its essence. A listening recommended for all lovers of modern sounds of a Prog that has marked Post Rock influences, but which shows all the talent and skill of an artist who, in addition to writing, has performed all the tracks by himself.


1. Marauder (07:15)
2. Shores of Ruin (05:29)
3. None So Blind (06:05)
4. Melpomene (04:56)
5. Celestial Ego (07:10)
6. The Coldness of Clarity (06:33)
7. The Narrows (03:18)
8. Infrastricken (14:16)


Matt Hobart / All Instruments

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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