MGT ‘Volumes’ Review: journeyman guitarist Mark Gemini Thwaite shows off his multi-faceted chops on album featuring notable alt-rock collaborators.
Mark Gemini Thwaite may not be a household name. But if you’re a fan of industrial, Goth and alternative rock, you’ve more than likely heard his work at some point.
But now he’s stepping out of the shadows on his first solo album Volumes (due June 24th via Oblivion/ SPV), featuring a wide array of guest vocalists and sturdy production from veteran producer Tim Palmer (Gene Loves Jezebel, Pearl Jam, Tin Machine, etc)
And unlike many solo guitar releases, there’s an emphasis on songcraft over flashy solos, with Thwaite’s session musician chops offering a versatile, multi-faceted sound throughout.
The album kicks off with first single Only Me, Only You, an ABBA cover featuring vocals from H.I.M’s Ville Valo, which recasts the track from its Europop beginnings to Queen-esque glam rock.
Thwaite’s goth roots shine throughout: The Reaping and Jessamine (featuring The Awakening’s Ashton Nyte on vocals) sound like Peter Murphy with a metal edge, while Another Snake In The Grass (featuring Mission’s Wayne Hussey) has the dark grandeur of Depeche Mode, fusing blues guitar with sleek electronics.
Other gloomy compositions of note include the dark ballad Sweet Valentine (with appropriately morose vocals from Dead Guitars’ Carlos Van Putten) and the atmospheric Dark Storm featuring Goth pioneer Andi Sex Gang.
Thwaite also employs industrial and techno elements to great effect, in particular on the grooving Coming Clean (featuring Pig’s Raymond Watt’s), and the swaggering Seconds featuring Republica’s Saffron.
The most prominent collaborator is Miles Hunt of The Wonder Stuff, who reminds us what an engaging and underrated vocal presence he truly is, in particular on the anthemic You Can’t Go Back and the dark country ballad Another Day Back, adorned with mournful backing fiddle.
In a press release for Volumes, Thwaite discussed his initial reticence for releasing a solo album, saying: I viewed the terrain of guitarist solo albums as saturated with self-indulgent virtuoso guitarists such as Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen and Satriani et al..”
His philosophy is readily apparent in the finished result. Volumes is an album which serves the song over flashy guitar heroics, and is heartily recommended for fans of classic 80’s and 90’s alternative and hard rock. Here’s to hoping there’s a Volumes II from Thwaite and co. in the near future.