Flat Tire is a departure in that it is Allan Holdsworth's first unaccompanied record, executed with the Synthaxe guitar synthesizer. Holdsworth uses the instrument not only to play basslines, string- and choir-like chord swells, and quicksilver single-note lines, but also to trigger drum patches. The result is more of a one-man band effect than a solo guitar performance. Some of the synth sounds are quite reminiscent of his 1987 album Sand. The music is a bit static and repetitive overall, particularly on tracks like "Please Hold On," "So Long," and "Don't You Know," during which single lines flutter over subtly shifting rubato harmonies. The brassy chords that surface during "The Duplicate Man" are perhaps the best example of Holdsworth's sonic creativity. More varied and rewarding are the tempo-based tracks, particularly "Eeny Meeny" and "Bo Peep," both of which feature bassist Dave Carpenter, who played on 2000's excellent The Sixteen Men of Tain. Other highlights include the quasi-African percussion collage of "Snow Moon" and the steady groove and syncopations of "Curves." Certainly not the best introduction to Holdsworth's music, but his die-hard fans will want to pay it close attention.
AllMusic Review by David R. Adler