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TRACK LIST: 1. Transformation 5:27 2. Sorrow 4:46 3. Aftermath 7:00 4. Phantasmes 6:49 5. Revenge 8:49 6. Nostalgia 3:59 7. Insanity 7:48 8. Oblivion 5:56 LINEUP: A-J Charron – guitars, bass; keyboards; timpani; voice Sylvie St-Amand – voice
Prolusion. Canadian composer and musician A-J Charron is probably best know as a contributor to websites such as guitarnoise.com, dprp.net and guitar9.com, but like so many other people involved in the music industry one way or another he has had aspirations that venture beyond the word of the written realm. His debut album "Humouring Gods", self-released in 2012, documents this quite nicely.
Analysis. This is a case where I feel that the artists own description of his CD is so well written that I feel it's a perfect description of the actual contents: "Humouring Gods” is a suite in 8 movements that delves into Greek mythology. It was originally composed for orchestra and two guitars. In this interpretation, most of the orchestra has been replaced by guitars. Bass and keyboards complete the arrangement with timpani." That description summarizes the contents of this album quite nicely. Or to describe this production in words of my own choosing: This is a classical piece, performed in a somewhat different manner than it was intended to at the time of writing. If the latter is read to contain a slightly critical note, that is indeed the case. Especially at the start of this production I got the feeling that the guitar in particular was trying to mimic or replicate sounds and expressions that would have otherwise been produced by instruments found in a classical symphonic ensemble, and not managing to do so in an enticing manner. This impression fades as the composition plays out though, although it is hard for me to say if this is a case of the listener getting accustomed to the material at hand, the musician altering approach during the recording sessions or both. I'd guess the latter option is the most plausible. I'll also note that the use of dark, harsh guitar riffs as dramatic effect, while I do understand why they are present and what role they serve, just doesn't work that well. Similar to this, albeit to a somewhat lesser extent, are the sequences where the arrangement takes on a more massive, majestic sound. It just doesn't come across as all that tantalizing, at least not to this set of ears. But what does work, and most beautifully so, are all the movements starring ethereal guitar sounds and careful guitar effects. As standalone features, when supplemented by bass, timpani, keyboards or all three in combination. Delightful and at times stunning displays with the longing guitar sounds crafting an almost heavenly mood in themselves, effectively combined with the dramatic presence of timpani for the ominous and haunting moods, sweetly contrasted by the bass guitar whenever that instrument is present, and with the keyboards adding symphonic textures that harmonize and flesh out the arrangements quite nicely indeed. If you enjoy moments of sheer beauty there are quite a few of them to enjoy in the 50 or so minutes this 8 part suite lasts. The most stunning of them all is the part called Revenge. It does contain some of the less enticing moments earlier described indeed, but the recurring theme sporting ethereal guitars, keyboards and timpani that is the highlight of this part of the composition is just so stunningly beautiful that it elevates the overall impression to soaring heights.
Conclusion. While far from being the perfect example of a classical composition performed by (mostly) rock music instruments, "Humouring Gods" is a CD that at its best showcases just how well the guitar is used to provide and sustain certain types of moods and atmospheres in a classical piece. An album that merits an inspection if you love the guitar, have a taste for classical music or the blend of rock music and classical music. In particular if you love the gentle, ethereal longing moods the guitar can produce within such a context.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: June 2, 2013
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