I discovered British born multi-instrumentalist Paul Cusick, while visiting Facebook on the internet. Facebook is a wonderful medium to meet new friends with common interests. Mr. Cusick must have had the same idea, when he tried to reach a bigger audience for his debut album Focal Point. He put an announcement for the album on Facebook that drew my attention. I asked him if I could get a copy for a review and he was so kind to send one. For those who are not familiar with Paul Cusick here’s a very short introduction. He used to be a guitar player for Peter Gabriel, Ripped and Riversea. The latter two names didn’t ring a bell for me, but that’s not of any importance. He put some demos on his MySpace-page on the internet that became very popular. Some record companies were willing to release his music, but he decided to release it on his private label instead. By doing so, he was free to record the music he likes best.
Apparently, I have the same musical taste as Paul Cusick for I got addicted to Focal Point. The music got me by the throat right from the start. Paul did an amazing job on his first album and he almost played all the instruments by himself. Why do I like Focal Point so much? Initially the groove on this album reminded me of Porcupine Tree especially Paul’s strong guitar riffs and the way the drums are played by Alex ‘The Groove Monster’ Cromarty. On one track, Touch, Andy Edwards (IQ, Frost) plays the drums. Good examples of strong grooves can be heard in the opening tune Focal Point and in Soul Words and Big Cars. Another fine aspect of this album is the way Paul Cusick creates fantastic atmospheres with wonderful synthesizer and acoustic piano sounds. Tracks to dream away by are Everblue and Touch. However, that is not all Paul Cusick has to offer. What to say about his awesome and very melodic guitar solos? They prove that he’s a big fan of musicians like Steve Hackett and Dave Gilmour. Just listen to Fade Away and Senza Tempo and you know exactly what I mean. Besides, Paul Cusick is a very gifted singer with a warm voice that never gets bored. The way he declaims the concept story on this album appealed to me either, but the combination of short soundscapes with fantastic background music really did the trick for me. It gives the music a certain tension and atmosphere that I like. It reminded me of albums made by Rain (Cerulean Blue) and Mickey Simmonds (The Seven Colours Of Emptiness). Those albums also contain a story and have the same kind of atmospheric orchestral music.
People who are interested in this fine album may download or buy the album from Paul Cusick’s website. You can listen to some new material as well. If you like Porcupine Tree and all the above-mentioned names you will have a great time with Focal Point. Anyway, I enjoyed it a lot.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)