Release Date: Nov 10, 2014
Record label: RED Music Solutions
Genre(s): Alternative/Indie Rock
The debut solo album from Ash frontman Tim Wheeler, Lost Domain is as heavy as it is melodious, documenting the Alzheimer's diagnosis and subsequent loss of Wheeler's father, and all of the soul searching that the event put into motion. Opening with the quietly majestic, guitar-led instrumental "Snow in Nara," Wheeler establishes a nice balance (sonically) between the deep melancholy of loss and the sweet fragility of hope early on. Lost Domain more or less happens in real time (diagnosis, illness, and death), with Wheeler serving up (in great detail) arresting images of hospital visits, pain management, heartfelt family discussions, and various other (seemingly) mundane components of end-stage care that are lent added weight by a bevy of lovely string arrangements and wistful pop melodies; the album's most powerful moment, the nearly ten-minute "Medicine," is a triumph of both style and substance.
Tim Wheeler’s debut solo album makes for difficult listening. Not for the reasons you may think – musically, Lost Domain is a pretty close cousin to most of his band Ash‘s output, albeit based more around the piano than the guitar. For it’s only when you examine the lyrics, and take into account the great, almost overwhelming sense of sadness and elegy that you begin to understand why this deeply personal project could only be a Wheeler solo project.
When an indie frontman makes a solo album, going trad is often the easy option. Credit to Ash’s Tim Wheeler, then, as rather than just bashing out a half-hearted country record or pulling a Johnny Borrell, his first solo outing evokes orchestral ballrooms in tribute to his late father George, lost to dementia. With the help of Andy Burrows, Neon Indian and the London Metropolitan Orchestra, he constructs pop heartbreakers dissecting their last moments together and the grief-stricken aftermath (‘Hospital’, ‘Vigil’, ‘Hold’) capped with his trademark chest-burster choruses.