Columbus, OH's Eric Rottmayer's solo project was known as Metronome early on. He later released music as Eric Metronome when it became clear that another group had dibs on the Metronome moniker first. As Metronome, Rottmayer released the incredible Invisible Friends CD in 1997 on the California label Blackbean & Placenta. The disc starts off with "Waltz of the Z's," a keyboard-and-synthesizer-based number which immediately showcases Rottmayer's unique vocals. His voice is high-pitched in a way that's different from the best of Elliott Smith or Unbunny, yet compelling and beautiful in its own way. Track four is a certain highlight. Entitled "Maybe Sometimes," the synthesizer and guitar work are simple, laying a foundation for Rottmayer's constrained vocal attack. As Metronome, Rottmayer was able to perform music differently than he does with his band, Tiara. Some of the songs are simple acoustic guitar-based gems, like "Happy 4," "Wanted to Wait Too," and "Please Girl." Track ten, "Touch Sensitive," is a synthesizer-laden instrumental. The title track chimes in at number 13, and it might be the most complex song, with waves of clanging drums and moments of quietude where Rottmayer's vocals are at the center. The song hits its climax when most of the music stops and he sings, "Where did all my friends go/What happened to them I need to know." The next-to-last track, "I Hate Small Talk/Onions," is unique in that it's virtually two songs written in equal parts by Thom Lessner and Nick Should, but it's assembled seamlessly as one song. "Something Even 1/2 As Real" chimes in as the final track at number 15. It's one of the most serene and sublime ones of the bunch, with Rottmayer's vocals (his strength) recorded on top of a series of intricately blended guitars and synthesizers. As a whole, the disc is a solid effort. It's garnered deserved praise in the indie pop community.
Invisible Friends Review
by Stephen Cramer