This is a review of "You've Come So Far" recorded by Nikoli. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2003.
This CD has a five star production on some uncertain material. There's a terrific sound to it, recorded as it is in a "purpose built studio" (what other sorts are there?). But it is difficult to get past the unanimated, occasionally off key voice and the rather miserabilist tunes. I love miserable, don't get me wrong. But this is more of a whine, than a howl. "Always" at track one sets the tone. There's a surging Doves-like backing track, then the despondent vocal line brings it all down to earth with a dull thud. "You've Come So Far" repeats the trick, a great ringing intro with echoing strings and guitars and vocal wooo ooohs. Then the colourless voice cuts in with a lacklustre line including the phrase "fucking brick wall". "The Boy/The Girl" is darker and more stripped down. The voice gets doubled up, but the song still doesn't get off the ground. "history repeats . so he can never change", he sings. And so to "Locust Swarm", with an upbeat percussive start that is gradually invaded by a murky three note tune from below. Somewhere about one minute thirty bigger keyboard swirls start to lift the pearls from the bottom of the tank but the rhythm has locked on in a fiercely persistent and repetitive way and only gives up at the very end with a few seconds of chiming guitars. There's no song on this one. The erstwhile Catherine Kline (LMS) wrote of the last Nikoli CD "it would be very interesting to hear what [Nikoli] would sound like with a naturally stronger, jazz -tinged vocal" and "we can expect great things in the future. Recommended." and both of those statements would be true of this recording too. Tim Hamms, working alone on this project, has given himself the luxury of not having to play and sing against the challenge of fellow musicians. The result is a good but flawed piece of work from someone with genuine talent.