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(64:48, Moonjune Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Lake of Fire 4:22 2. Money Speaks 4:40 3. You’ll Just Have to See It to Believe 5:22 4. Stars of Sayulita 6:12 5. Warning 4:20 6. What Have They Done to the Rain 4:56 7. Abandoned Mines 5:45 8. Suicide Train 4:23 9. Telstar 3:55 10. Dateless Oblivion & Divine Repose 1:54 LINEUP: Barry Cleveland – el., ac. & synth guitars; sampling; vocals Robert Powell – pedal- & lap-steel guitars Celso Albert – drums, percussion Michael Manring – bass Amy Neuburg – vocals With: Rick Walker – drums Greg Robair – percussion Erden Helvacioglu – electronics Deborah Holland – vocals Harry Manx – vocals
Prolusion. “Hologramaton” is the fifth release of American musician and composer Barry CLEVELAND. Besides the ten original compositions that are listed above, the CD contains three bonus tracks. I’ll touch on those at the end of the review, since all of them are remixes of some previous items.
Analysis. The album as such lasts for 45+ minutes and is a pleasing musical journey almost throughout. Half of the tracks are songs, whose – full of political and social protest – lyrics reminded me of the time when the term of Rock-In-Opposition was used mainly to stress the left-wing character of some performers’ worldview, and wasn’t regarded as a separate progressive rock music style, at least widely. Furthermore, Amy Neuburg’s singing is at times strongly reminiscent of Aislinn Quinn’s (Absolute Zero) or Dagmar Krause’s (Henry Cow, Art Bears), albeit her delivery is less hysterical and crazy than that of either of her hypothetical benefactors. Barry’s vocals, in turn, bring to mind those of Guy Segers (Univers Zero, Present, Grosso Modo) on some occasions. However, the music itself – or its instrumental component if you will – does not evoke RIO at all, and is basically fairly groovy. Disc opener Lake of Fire develops from a reflective space rock/fusion tune into a heavy doom metallish guitar riffing-driven move (which instantly brings to mind The Illusion of Power from Black Sabbath’s “Forbidden”), later on alternating between these two stylings. The other two most intensely sounding compositions, Warning and Suicide Train, are in many ways similar to Lake of Fire. However, both are richer in elements of e-music as well as narrative-stylized vocals, their heavier arrangements referring mainly to Industrial Metal. Surprisingly, when the music gets more distinctly groovy – such as it does on the song Money Speaks as well as the instrumentals Abandoned Mines and Suicide Train – it becomes really transporting, reminding me more of early Porcupine Tree than ‘90s Ozric Tentacles or Hawkwind, for instance. The most significant difference between this stuff and something by the former outfit is that it has a certain e-music feel, as Barry quite actively uses keyboard samples here – besides playing his main instrument, of course. Anyhow, whatever the way chosen, heavier or more restrained, the described pieces all work at their own merits, showing the band’s ability to carry quirky rhythms as well as weave intricate soloing patterns while only subtly changing basic themes. The remaining four tracks are stylistically different. Stars of Sayulita is a highly impressive symphonic space rock ballad, which, well, doesn’t really come across as a ballad, since its instrumental canvas is fairly complicated. Dateless Oblivion & Divine Repose (the sole short cut here) is a guitar soundscape. Telstar and What Have They Done to the Rain are each a jolly and, hmm, a merely romantic mainstream-like tune, respectively, where only Michael Manring’s bass solos appear to be properly progressive. Manring’s presence is generally telling. He is the most adventurous voice in this show, playing bass in a highly diverse and innovative manner, bravely crossing the borders of any, say, heading sets. Barry and Robert Powell are both at their best when working within the terrain of Space Rock/Fusion. The corresponding guitar solos kindle and calm down, then explode again, at times reaching far beyond the basic theme – yet still not as far as the bass ones do, though I can also assume that all this occurs just according to the mastermind’s design. As to Celso Albert’s drumming, while it does not vary the structure of the pieces very much (after all, the man’s main task is to create grooves), it is still odd-measured: perfect for the main type of music exploring on this release. The CD also features bonus tracks in the form of remixes or alternate mixes, all of which come across as a trance take on their original versions: something that seems to be designed for a disco – and so is destined for a cosmic dustbin.
Conclusion. This release by Barry Cleveland is recommended to everybody who enjoys space rock jams. Only avoid the ‘dancing holograms’ while listening to it. Thanks, Barry, for placing those at the very end of the CD, though it would’ve been wiser of you if you would have issued them separately, as an EP.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: November 10, 2010
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