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Tom Doncourt_Lantern
(2020 - self release - USA)

Brave ideas of art rock, avant-pop, and world infused progressive music, all wrapped in a beautifully experimental curio package. While this may be a last epitome of Tom Doncourt (this was completed just shortly before his death, and final mixes were played to his best friend Chuck Bernkalu, only 2 days before Tom's passing), the lingering statements of many of the lyrics are haunting. He wrote all the music and words. Somewhat hard to pin down, the styles float among each other like blissful bubbles, each with little surreal worlds inside them.

There are notes inside the compact disc that explain both the title and back cover photo. I'll let the reader seek those. One of the instrumental pieces 'Constellation Orpheus' (track #5) reminds me of the grandeur of Tom's early progressive rock band Cathedral, where he commands his favorite Mellotron, Moogs, and other variety of keys. Totally symphonic and heavenly. But much of the music here has an exotic flavor, yet dreamy and filled with magical vocals by Eunice Wobble Wong on songs 'Treetops', 'Lantern', 'Invisible Fire', 'Barrier', 'The Vine', 'Stone', 'Lost on Long Island' and 'Plasma'. Those literally do dances and agile maneuvers with either complex instrumentation, or a mixture of elegant and abstract melody junction. There is also a hard to describe dualism of carnal and mystical atmosphere, but all under a majestic sky. And even that sways from night to daytime.

Other credits include Mattias Olsson - kit and percussion on 'Treetops',' Invisible Fire', 'Barrier' and 'Lost on Long Island'/ Chuck Bernklau - bass on 'Treetops', 'Barrier' and 'Lost on Long Island' / and the composer himself, Tom Doncourt - Mellotrons, Chamberlin, a few different model Moogs, all other keyboards, percussion, gongs, lap steel, bird organs, Koto, and additional sounds. Tom also did cover art painting. Chuck Bernkalu took imposed photo on back. The players do a fantastic job with their parts, and I can't say enough about the talent of Tom. The fact that I own nothing else exactly like this album, says a lot. I friended Tom on Facebook some years ago, and we had percussion and Mellotron love in common. Seeing  I am an also a drummer/percussionist/keyboardist, I felt some kinship with him. I also saw how serious and technical he was about it all. I instantly gained respect.

Doncourt (out of New York) has four other wonderful solo releases that range from all instrumental keyboard oriented to similar projects such as this one. All are very worth your time. Tom will be missed by all, but his music lives on, lucky for us. I truly love the unique and one of a kind styles, combination of genres, and special touches he puts in these songs. A number of auditions is required to really take it all in properly. It has a take off and landing energy throughout. Even one fast high paced 'Lost In Long Island' cut, that has an early Yes flavor, with Brufordesque drums, and a rocked out twist. 'Invisible Fire' brings about a cool groove, almost Portishead gone progressive. The listener gets ten compositions full of color, varied intensity, hues, and spirit. Without doubt, this final recording by Tom Doncourt titled 'Lantern', stands out boldly as a high mark in his life. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

  ©Reviewed by Lee Henderson  3 - 21 - 2020

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