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(59:39, Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. It’s All About Fashion 3:40 2. Karma 5.34 3. The Cycle of Suffering 5.37 4. Inner Circle 4.14 5. The Deepest Depression 5.11 6. Werther Effect 5.10 7. Inner Peace 3.28 8. The Darkest Years 5.03 9. Flow Like Water 4.48 10. The Night of Destruction 5.11 11. Liberal Paradox 5.05 12. Never Free 4.41 13. The Spirits Within 5.32 SOLO PILOT: Tadashi Goto – keyboards; programmed drums With: Chris Poland – lead guitar (1, 4, 5) Ty Tabor – lead guitar (10, 11) Matt Bissonette – bass (5, 7) Tony Levin – bass, Chapman stick (6, 8) Jose Bernardo – guitars, bass (9, 12) Sean Conklin – guitar (7, 10) Marco Ahrens – guitar (1) Brett Garsed – guitar (2) Tony Franklin – bass (11) Randy George – bass (9) Joseph Patrick Moore – bass (3)
Prolusion. Tadashi GOTO is a Japanese keyboardist and composer, who started on his musical journey at the tender young age of 5. “Innervisions”, his second album, follows his 2005 debut “Soundscape”, recorded by Goto without any external contributions, while “Innervisions” sees the participation of a number of high-profile guest musicians, including legendary bassist Tony Levin and Ohm guitarist Chris Poland (formerly with Megadeth). Goto is currently recording his third album, which will feature three female vocalists.
Analysis. Instrumental prog-metal albums blending diverse influences into a basic full-tilt-attack framework seem to be a dime a dozen these days – which is a pity, because this particular subsection of progressive rock has yielded some genuinely ground-breaking masterpieces. Unfortunately, nowadays many musicians believe that technical skill is enough to produce an album, and that having a number of high-profile guests grace said album’s liner notes will automatically be a guarantee of quality. The results are albums like Tadashi Goto’s “Innervisions” – a textbook example of how having the right ingredients at your disposal will not guarantee the success of a dish. As a reviewer, I profoundly dislike having to put down an album, especially when its author is a musician that still has to build a solid reputation. However, I find very little to praise in “Innervisions”, no matter how talented Tadashi Goto may be as a keyboardist. At times the album sounds distinctly painful, giving the overall impression of a half-baked, directionless mess. Not even the presence of an impressive cast of guest artists is enough to salvage a production that would aspire to follow in the wake of such acts as Planet X or Liquid Tension Experiment, who blend the energy and aggression of progressive metal with the virtuosic stylings of fusion. Unfortunately, the afore-mentioned bands possess compositional skills, besides the obvious technical ones, that seem to elude Goto – so that the album comes across as little more than a dazzling, yet ultimately soulless display of chops. Throw the album’s running time (one hour) into the equation, and you will get the picture – this is a production that very few but the dedicated worshippers of technique for its own sake will find appealing. While listening to “Innervisions”, I formed the impression that Tadashi Goto does not yet know what direction he wants his music to take. Alongside fast-as-lightning, harsh-sounding prog-metal pieces heavy on riffs and machine-gun (programmed) drumming, the album features a few slower, melodic tracks. Both the aptly-titled Inner Peace and album closer The Spirits Within are graced by the tinkling sound of the piano, while Flow Like Water, besides a noteworthy bass solo from Tony Levin, contains an ambient-like section in which synths, not surprisingly, reproduce the sound of water. The first half of Inner Circle sounds like a sort of throwback to Eighties-style jazz-rock, with an almost radio-friendly melody led by keyboards and drums, but then quickly descends into a chaos of odd, disjointed noises and voices. Similarly, Werther Effect starts as a melodic, almost stately offering, with a pleasing, Oriental-tinged guitar solo (courtesy of Chris Poland) – only to unexpectedly turn into a gung-ho aural assault with odd percussion sounds at the end. The remaining tracks veer from the merely annoying to the nearly unlistenable, dominated as they are by the unrelenting sound of the programmed drums and Goto’s ultra-fast, largely unmelodic keyboards. A couple of items (The Cycle of Suffering and The Deepest Depression) border on thrash-metal, with the keyboards taking up the role of the guitar; some others (like the aptly-titled The Night of Destruction) take instead a more doom-and-gloom approach. In spite of the impressive pedigree of the guest guitarists, the guitar parts generally come across as little more than shred-fests, and the riffing is harsh and repetitive. The disjointed feel of the majority of the compositions – not to mention the merciless pile-up of shrill, grating sounds – all contribute to a less than pleasurable listening experience. All in all, this amounts to a wasted opportunity for an otherwise talented musician.
Conclusion. To be perfectly honest, I do not believe “Innervisions” will really appeal many listeners besides those with a penchant for anything fast and flashy, no matter if there is no hint of melody or recognizable structure. Indeed, the tuneless nature and lack of compositional discipline of some of the tracks makes them almost painful to listen to. Involving a number of high-profile guest musicians is just not enough, when their contribution feels lost and wasted in what is essentially a misfire. It is to be hoped that, for his third album, Tadashi Goto will get a real band together (especially a real drummer), and try to come up with something more cohesive – not to mention a tad shorter.
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