Jimi Sobara Smashes Expectations in Infinite Soul
With a style that mixes elements of hard rock, prog rock, and trace elements of blues, the sound on instrumentalist Jimi Sobara’s 2016 album Infinite Soul captures a sound that is as complex as it is enjoyable to listen to. It’s definitely a more aggressive sound than I initially expected: the title of the album originally had me thinking that it would have a slow, soulful vibe, but it proceeded to smack me in the face with a powerful guitar solo from the very beginning of its first track. That being said, this was a welcome surprise, and after multiple listens I can conclude that Sobara’s dedication to his craft likely makes his latest work one of the best instrumental albums that I’ve heard so far in 2016.
Sobara’s guitar playing style can best be described as the epitome of cool. Track 4, “Rock Me Baby” perhaps provides the ideal example for this stylistic approach, combining a deep riff pattern in the refrain with the energetic, lightning fast solos that are sprinkled throughout. Riveting guitar playing in the track makes you wish you could walk in slow motion just to have Sobara’s music playing behind you; it is a great rarity to find such a cool vibe in wicked fast shredding. The near perfect audio mixing highlights all of the best qualities of each of the tracks, and while the guitar is the most praiseworthy element of the album, the drums, bass, and keyboard all do their part in heightening the raw energy that Infinite Soul has to offer.
The usual risk that you get from listening to purely instrumental albums is that the tracks may seem to sound far too similar if they are all played back to back. That isn’t the case for Infinite Soul though, as its various miscellaneous instrumental elements keep the tracks feeling fresh even after multiple repeated listens. For example, Track 8, “Pure Dimension” and Track 10, “Secret Atmosphere” have a pinch of gregorian chant added to them to help them distinguish themselves from the their predecessors. The former has a deep drum beat backing it up as well, which gives it a darker feel relative to the earlier tracks on the album. Sobara’s signature energetic guitar playing always takes centre stage though, and the variety of his musicianship puts the finishing touches on marking him as a serious force in the independent rock scene.
There is only one thing stopping me from giving this album a perfect 10—the metaphorical wart that is present on this otherwise superb album. This wart takes the shape of Track 9, “Magic” which doesn’t pack the same punch as its predecessors and adds a sparkling glitter effect in the background that makes me laugh out loud every time I hear it. Everything about the coolness of the album is lost with this track, as Sobara’s guitar playing feels restrained, resulting in a less potent feeling of exhilaration for the listening audience. Even the tone of “Magic” is completely at odds with the grittier sound of the rest of the album; it almost sounds as though it is trying to be cheerful, which isn’t an emotion that lends itself well to Sobara’s playstyle whatsoever. With all of the other tracks being of such high quality, I can’t slam the entire album too much for a one off goof—I just hope that Sobara never tries adding sparkling effects to any of his future music.
Impressive beyond all of my other praises for this album is the fact that Jimi Sobara has shown such tremendous growth in only one year. Sobara’s 2015 album Taboo was an all around decent display of his talent, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to the level of quality of this mid 2016 work of artistry. In just a year, the Bulgarian musician has improved his audio quality significantly, and established a sound that is unique to him. Above all else, Infinite Soul is a testament to the hard work and dedication that Sobara has continued to put into his craft, and his improvement thus far is a strong indicator of the incredible things that he’ll be capable of doing in the future. If you are as passionate about excellent guitar playing as I am, then you’d be doing yourself a major disservice by not checking out Infinite Soul.