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Demonstratus by Thom Hartwick

How can I begin to describe the genius that is Thom Hartwick?

Thom Hartwick is a music instructor at the Atlanta Institute of Music. Thom Hartwick is an extremely capable drummer. Thom Hartwick has created a instructional technique for double bass drum called "rudimental foot technique". Thom Hartwick is very proud of this technique. Thom Hartwick has released an album called "Demonstratus". Thom Hartwick produced and arranged this album. Thom Hartwick is proud of his artistry and achievements.

Have you picked up on the sarcasm yet?

I’ll wait.

Finally got it? Good.

While Hartwick may be a talented drummer and have some musical ideas, he doesn’t bother to flesh these ideas out or blend his many influences into a distinctive style. Instead, Hartwick opts to wow the listener with his technical proficiency. It all comes across as self-serving, self-congratulatory, self-flagellating, and ultimately self-immolating. "Demonstratus" is an exercise in recording songs that take sudden left turns simply as an excuse to show off one’s technical prowess.

I vainly used to listen to Yngwie Malmsteen records as a teenager, hoping that he’d stop being impressed by himself to actually play with some emotion and freedom. So I know a musical wank when I hear one. While it might be harsh to compare "Demonstratus" to the career output of a narcissistic, classically trained heavy metal guitarist, Hartwick and Malmsteen do share some of the same tendencies.

Hartwick doesn’t help his case by writing in the liner notes that with the song "Wizardry" he’s blended classical, jazz and rock to "create a technical ensemble of independence and rhythmic modulation that can only be wizardry". Or that "Swing Stop" is a "modal manuscript that is missing a few pages in the chapter entitled ‘chorus’", one of many chapters in the book of songcraft where Hartwick needs to do some remedial study. The song "Trinket" is a rare exception on "Demonstratus", actually showing actual hints of thought behind the song.

As for Hartwick’s many exercises in "rudimental foot technique" on "Demonstratus", let me just say that neither Trilok Gurtu nor Susie Ibarra have anything to fear from Thom Hartwick, yet.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Thom Hartwick
  • CD Title: Demonstratus
  • Genre: Fusion
  • Year Released: 2001
  • Record Label: Independent
  • Musicians: Hartwick (drums, percussion), Carl Culpepper (guitar), Rudy Lupinski (piano)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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