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The Gak Omek (USA) - 2003 - "Alien Eye"
TRACK LIST: 1. Black Holes Colliding 10:31 2. Here Comes the Aluminum Man 9:24 3. Tourniquet of Roses 9:02 4. Moonburn 3 AM 8:31 5. Baby Gotta Visegrip 6:54 6. Dancing Bologna 6:15 7. Robotomy 4:30 8. The Squiggly Parameter 5:25 All tracks: by Burger. Produced & engineered by Burger. SOLO PILOT: Robert Burger - guitar & guitar-synthesizer; programming With: Dave Cashin - keyboards (on 7)
Prolusion. "Alien Eye" is the first album by New Jersey's project The Gak Omek, which is a one-man team actually. In other words, the number of Solo Pilots to Prog Universe has grown again, and by the way, it continues growing constantly. The fruit of the 20th century technical revolution, this phenomenon has already become a habitual occurrence.
Synopsis. Before reading the review, please have a look at the track list above and take note the dynamics of reduction of the duration of compositions as the album unfolds. It's rather curious, but doesn't influence upon the music's quality, at least on the whole. Now, I have to tell you that Robert Burger's music is strikingly unique, which in itself is a major achievement, and it's clear why. It's an axiom rather than a theory that originality can't exist out of the context of authentic inspiration, and such a primordially efficient union always leads to the best creative effect. Of course, there also are some other factors that have predetermined the impressiveness of "Alien Eye", and these lie in Robert's talent in composition, arrangement, performance, and engineering. Although our man plays only electric guitar and uses only a guitar synthesizer, the overall sonic palette incorporates the sounds of several instruments, is mostly dense and rich and is typical rather for MIDI instruments. (Thus, I wouldn't believe it could manage without any overdubs.) Most of the music was first improvised on the basis of preliminarily adjusted themes, laid when programming the parts of the rhythm-section, which serves somewhat of an axis in most cases. Later everything was integrated and fixed. As a result, symphonic and related structured harmonies prevail over improvisational ones nearly everywhere on the album, and with the exception of one track, which I'll point out below, the music is only flavored of Jazz-Fusion. Nevertheless, the album is very diverse stylistically. The two quasi-epics at the head of it: Black Holes Colliding and Here Comes the Aluminum Man are a confluence of guitar and symphonic Art- and Space Rock enriched with sonata textures of European Classicism and subtle sonorities of Northern India's Classical music, which doesn't have any analogies. However, the first of them is the only track here that contains obvious repetitions, so the second is better. What is more, it is filled with magic and is probably the best composition on the album in general. Here and on any of the other tracks, save the heavy Rock & Roll number Baby Gotta Visegrip, the music develop constantly and is highly exciting. Tourniquet of Roses, Moonburn 3 AM, and Robotomy in many ways follow the style laid on the first two tracks, but without any classical tendencies and related, lushly colored, sounds (of strings, etc). The sounds of drums, cymbals and mallet percussion that are used on these, and also on the second and eighth tracks, are very good, while on the other three most of the drum lines are both synthetic and unpretentious. Especially awful is a drum machine on Dancing Bologna. It sounds like a pair of flapping rubbers, while the arrangements, based mainly on Scottish or Celtic folk music, are excellent throughout. I really wonder why didn't Robert use good drum samples everywhere on the album. On the other hand, I must note that this is the only serious drawback he made here. The orchestral-like arrangements returned only on the last track, The Squiggly Parameter, this time in the form of brass section. This is Jazz-Fusion of the first water, but I doubt that all that jazz beauty was elicited from a guitar synthesizer, so "MIDI" comes to my mind again.
Conclusion. "Alien Eye" needs several listens to be comprehended. However, this music possesses a strong magnetic power, so it quickly attracts the listener's attention. To obtain an immediate effect, please play it loud, as I did. Despite a few flaws in the performance department, this is more than a merely noteworthy album, especially compositionally, and I would tell lie if I would say that I liked it less than very much.
VM: September 14, 2004
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