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Segal, Greg (USA)
Overall View

Discography:

2001 - "Always Look On the Dark Side of Life"
(74 min, 'Phantom Airship', CD-01)
*****

2001 - "Experimental Guitar Sampler"
(78 min, 'Phantom Airship' MC-01)
****+

2002 - "In Search of the Fantastic"
(77 min, 'Phantom Airship')
*****


2001 - "Always Look On the Dark Side of Life"
(74 min, 'Phantom Airship', CD-01)
*****

Tracklist:
1. As the Sky Turns To Fire 2:54 
2. Cold Sky 5:42
3. Night Circus 3:43
4. If I Die Tomorrow:
a) Introduction 1:23
b)    If I Die Tomorrow 4:38
5. So Far 2:34
6. King of Illusion 2:00
7. A Man Who Was Here 6:17
8. Nothing In the Dark: 
a) Discharge 1:26
b) Nothing In the Dark 2:42
9. The Taker 7:28
10. I was Back In the School Again 6:57
11. Water From the Moon 5:45
12. Honor 3:19
13. Motifs 4:49
14. The Time to Be 3:18
15. Demolished 3:40
16. What Gives You the Right 3:51

Greg Segal (of Jugalbandi, ex-Paper Bag)
- electric, acoustic, & bass guitars,
  acoustic & electronic drums & percussion,
  vocals, keys

Music: Greg Segal.
Lyrics: Greg Segal,
except: 17: by T. A. Daughterty. 
Produced by Greg Segal.
Recorded & mixed
by Greg Segal
at "Phantom Airship" studio.

Prologue. Greg Segal was the founding member of Paper Bag and Jugalbandi. "Always Look On the Dark Side of Life" is his first official solo album. It consists of the tracks that have been recorded in different years (in the 1980s and 1990s). The Numbers of Solo Pilots have grown again.

The Album. The opening track As the Skies Turn To Fire is the only real instrumental on "Always Look On the Dark Side of Life". Also, this is the only track on the album that contains a lot of keyboards, including an excellent solo on synthesizer. Despite all of the said nuances, stylistically As the Skies Turn To Fire is not unlike all of the following three songs. Really, all of the first four tracks on the album were created within the frame of unified style that can be defined as a tasteful, diverse, original (and truly) Progressive Hard Rock. Here is a brief description of structures that are, on the whole, typical for each of the said compositions. Guitar's heavy riffs and distorted solos, that go mid-tempo to the accompaniment of the fast, thunderous drumming, change with diverse yet almost always slowly moving gelatin-like 'plates' of spacey Art-Rock where the fluid electric guitar solos play a prominent role. What's the main thing is the instrumental arrangements work always here, no matter whether Greg sings or he's silent, which, as you well know, is typical only for serious Prog performers. Conditionally, the album can be divided into three parts that, stylistically, are very different from each other. (Most likely, though, these parts really reflect the changes of Greg's musical passions). I think the first part that includes the album's first four tracks, represents the most recent period of Greg's creation (and so forth in the line of descent). All of the first five tracks on the album are original from the first to the last note, but the further I move while listening to the album the more traces of influences I find on it. However, speaking of these influences, I must express my reservations. Firstly, there are lots of Greg's own ideas on all of the remaining tracks and even on a few of those that contain the more or less evident influences. Thus, none of the songs on this album sound like a parody. Secondly, at least a half of the remaining songs, especially those in the second part, on the whole sound highly original. They are inspired rather than influenced by the creation of the performers who will be named below. There are only two tracks that are featured the second conditional part of the album: King of Illusion and A Man Who Was Here (tracks 6 & 7). Filled with the dark and tense atmosphere, created by the slowed Doom Metal-like guitar riffs and dramatic vocals, they excite the remote associations with the true Fathers of Metal (and Progressive Metal as well) Black Sabbath. Both of them are the excellent songs, but especially A Man Who Was Here. The third part is the largest: it includes eight complete songs: Nothing In the Dark, The Taker, I was Back In the School Again, Water From the Moon, Honor, Motifs, Demolished, What Gives You the Right (tracks 8 to 13, 15, 16). Stylistically, they represent either a blend of Art-Rock and Space Rock (tracks 8, 9, & 11) or a pure Art-Rock (tracks 10, 12, 13, 15, & 16). Though, one of the latter tracks, Honor (12), has also quite an evident Rock-ish feel. On the whole, it can remind one of any of the first tracks from Peter Hammill's albums released from 1978 to 1983. Yes, each of the tracks, that are featured the third conditional part of the album, contain the elements of the style of 'lone Peter' (Hammill worked all alone 1978 to 1980) - both instrumentally and vocally, though the latter point is more evident than the former. Three of these songs are "chameleonesque": like chameleons, they hide the "Hammillesque" colours under the hide (sorry, guise) of their natural originality. So, these are songs that Greg composed just by being inspired by the creation of Hammill: The Taker (which is a real Space Rock masterpiece), What Gives You the Right (another excellent song), and already the mentioned Honor (tracks 9, 16, & 12 respectively). In all of the remaining songs Greg not only sings not unlike Hammill, - his lyrics in them are as profound (and dark, on the whole) as lyrics by the founder of Van Der Graaf. (Though, of course, Greg has his own view on the dark sides of life and his lyrics are not as grotesque as most of Peter's.) While almost all of these songs have mostly the guitar-based structures (both acoustic and electric), Water From the Moon, instrumentally, presents a very innovative, kind of 'dark' manifestation of Space Rock. Although Greg sings here not unlike PH, vocal parts of Water From the Moon are probably the most impressive on the album. Two vocals (one of which was overdubbed, of course), sinister and dramatic, create in many ways a unique vocal palette that would be worthy of Hammill himself.

Summary. Glancing over the "Always Look On the Dark Side of Life" album as a whole, it's easy to imagine that this 74-minute CD consists as if it's two different albums (LP talk). Then, one of them would represent a heavy Progressive Rock, while another - a mix of Classic Art-Rock and Space Rock. Yes, I hear how you're asking me "Hey guy, where have you lost a couple of tracks from this CD?" Sorry, almost forgot of them. You'd also better forget those two (too) silly 'n' merry rock 'n' rolls that are titled So Far and The Time to Be. Just exclude them from this long and truly excellent album while programming your CD, and... enjoy!

VM. December 28, 2001
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2001 - "Experimental Guitar Sampler"
(78 min, 'Phantom Airship' MC-01)
*****

Tracklist:
1. Introduction
2. King of the Night (solo)
3. Live-1
4. Live-2
5. Giger Landscape
6. 3 a.m.
7. Environmental Piece #1
8. Horsehead
9. Discharge

Greg Segal
- guitars, guitar pedals,
sound processor (pedal-board)

Written & improvised by Greg Segal.
All tracks were recorded live.

Prologue. The "Experimental Guitar Sampler" MC consists of the instrumentals that have been performed by Greg Segal (of Paper Bag, Jugalbandi, and Solo) in different years (in the 1980s & 1990s). All of these pieces Greg performed alone 'n' live, using the varied guitar pedals and the sound processor.

The Album. Despite the fact that there are neither stylistic nor performing similarities between Greg Segal and Robert Fripp, I would call this album just "Segaltronics", which, regarding the music that is presented here sounds actual in many ways. No, I've changed my mind: "SegaLaces" would sound both actual and original. In truth, playing only the guitar but using the possibilities of his pedal-board effectively, Greg "tats" the diverse guitar solo laces and other sounds-capes on each of the album's eight tracks. Although the absolute majority of solos on the album were performed impromptu, none of them sound like a jazzy improvisation. Stylistically, this album represents still the same slightly eclectic blend of psychedelic Space Rock and symphonic Art-Rock Rock with a lot of 'additional' sound effects and noises, which is typical for the creation of Jugalbandi. The only major difference between "SegaLaces" and any of the Jugalbandi albums lies in the sound. There are no drums on the first one, but the overall sound here is much richer than on the duo's works, and vice versa. There are four of the short (tracks 1 & 6) and relatively short (tracks 2 & 4) and four of the long pieces on the album. Both of the shortest ones (Introduction & 3 a.m.) are rather melodious symphonic pieces. Dramatic and even mournful, the opening parts of the first of them remind me of chords and passages similar to that of a church organ. 3 a.m., consisting of passages and solos of semi-acoustic guitar, has a slight eastern feel and remotely reminds me of The Battle of Evermore from Led Zeppelin's album "Four Signs" ("IV"). King of the Night is the distorted, double-echoed, fast, and virtuosi guitar solo surrounded by various "flying" sounds. Live (part 2), apart from the 'spacey spaces', contains a lot of heavy guitar riffs. All four of the long pieces present that blend of psychedelic Space Rock and symphonic Art-Rock Rock with a lot of 'additional' sound effects and noises, which is typical for Greg's current project Jugalbandi, much more evidently than the other tracks. Apart from the "chaotic" noisy-psychedelic episodes, they are filled with very impressive duos and trios, consisting of solos and passages of electric, semi-acoustic, and bass guitars, all of which are often not only surrounded by varied "flying" sounds and "ghostly" chords of synthesizer, but also play the different parts. Of course, I should have added the word "pseudo" to all of those "duos", "instruments" (etc), that I was talking about in the previous sentence, but I think it doesn't matter much, don't you?

Summary. Now it's clear that most of the innovative ideas that have been discovered by Greg during his many years of (live) experiment* with using of the processed sounds (*while recording" the tracks for this album), became the basis of the creation of Jugalbandi. I only wonder why Greg didn't use his own experience of making a really big sound on the albums of the duo as effectively as he did it some time ago?

VM. January 11, 2002
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2002 - "In Search of the Fantastic"
(77 min, 'Phantom Airship')
*****

Tracklist:
1. Alone 1:21
2. Looking For Paradise 7:54
3. Nad 2:16
4. Sahara 1909 7:29
5. Congruence Asserts the Presence 1:08
6. Madstone 1:49
7. Returns 5:04
8. Snallygaster 3:36
9. The Deros Discover King Solomon's Mines 2:07
10. Sanctuary 2:06
11. The India - Appalachia Railway 7:22
12. Was It Childhood 2:44
13. The Bad Ass Ride 2:22
14. Around the Healing Spring 2:01
15. Bhaga 1:52
16. The Backroads of Time 4:21
17. What Once Was Is 6:15
18. Of Brief Stays 1:31
19. Wednesday 10 p. m. 11:47
20. Paradise Is Where You Find It 2:07

All tracks: by Greg Segal, except 1 (poem by E. A. Poe).
Arranged, performed, & produced by Greg Segal.
Artwork & photos: by Greg Segal.
Recorded by Greg Segal
at "Phantom Airship" studio, Portland, OR, USA.

Greg Segal (plays) - various acoustic,
electric, & bass guitars,
traditional & exotic drums & percussion, 
Appalachian dulcimer, Thai xylophone, vocalizes (on 2)

Prologue. Greg Segal is back with his third solo album. In fact, "In Search of the Fantastic" is the first album by Greg, all of the compositions of which he composed in a relatively short period of time and especially for this recording. As most of you know, both of Greg's previous albums consist of the songs that have been performed and recorded in different years. (Which doesn't diminish their value.)

The Album. To be honest, on "In Search of the Fantastic" I expected to hear something close to Greg's other official album (i.e. CD) "Always Look On the Dark Side of Life". However, it seems Greg doesn't want to return to his 'classic progressive' past. It turned out to be that his new album is kind of a further cultivation of the musical lands he discovered during the first "Experimental Guitar" journey. In other words, Greg is in search of the fantastic pass through the landscapes and sounds-capes of Jugalbandi. (In advance, I'd like to let you know that this latest search was very fruitful for Greg.) Musically, however, unlike "Experimental Guitar Sampler" and all of the albums by Jugalbandi, "In Search of the Fantastic" is, on the whole, almost as motley as "Always Look On the Dark Side of Life". First, I'll tell you about those tracks that are distinctly different than all of the other pieces on the album. These are Alone and Nad, (tracks 1 & 3). On the first of the two, Greg, being 'accompanied' by a few sound effects, just recites a rhyme by Edgar Allan Poe. I think I am correct regarding the opening track as just an intro to the album. On Nad is presented a rather dark choir consisting of bass, baritone, etc vocalizes, all of which were sung (and overdubbed) by Greg himself. This is quite an impressive track, though it would have been much better if it would have been placed right after that recitative introduction to the album. This small error was made by the producer of the album (i.e. by Greg himself), because the arrangement of the tracks on the CD are probably the most important operation after they were composed, performed, and recorded. As for eighteen of the remaining tracks on the album (all of which are instrumental), I am going to divide them into a few separate parts. (Which, though, I always do while 'preparing' an album, the contents of which were composed not within the framework of a unified stylistics.) Each of these parts will be featured by the compositions that, stylistically, are similar to each other. A very innovative manifestation of Space Rock is represented here by six tracks. These are: Looking For Paradise, Sahara 1909, The India - Appalachia Railway, The Bad Ass Ride, Bhaga, and What Once Was Is (tracks 2, 4, 11, 13, 15, & 17). The last three of them are mostly based on heavy guitar and bass riffs, while the fluid electric guitar solos and Thai xylophone, along with the parts of percussion and 'flying' sounds of Appalachian dulcimer, create the excellent Spacey arrangements. The latter are accompanied by some unusual and wonderful colors that, very remotely, can remind one of Asian music. The first of those tracks, though, is the real centerpiece of the album. Apart from all of the said details, which are typical for all six of the Space Rock pieces, The India - Appalachia Railway also features an outstanding Sitar-like solo of an electric guitar and unique passages of an acoustic guitar. Sahara 1909 (track 2) is notable for the great assortment of percussion instruments, and Greg plays them powerfully and, what's central, masterfully. Another bunch of very innovative and interesting things on the album contains the following compositions: Madstone, Sanctuary, Around the Healing Spring, and Paradise Is Where You Find It (tracks 6, 10, 14, & 20). Unlike those acoustic guitar pieces that we call "classical" (the works of Steve Howe and Steve Hackett should be the most known examples of them), these sketches are based on such unusual and exotic (just wonderful) passages of an acoustic guitar that you probably never heard before. There are a few other interesting compositions on the album, the style of which can be regarded as a new manifestation of Psychedelic music. They include: Returns, Snallygaster, The Backroads of Time, and Wednesday 10 p. m. (tracks 7, 8, 16, & 19). All of them are filled with a dark and rather eclectic set of various low-tone sounds, ghostly and 'flying' effects, siren-like and other guitar solos, most of which were recorded in the reverse mode.

Summary. In my honest opinion, "In Search of the Fantastic" is the most unique and perfect (i.e. just the best) album in the joint discography of Greg Segal Solo and Jugalbandi. (Though, unfortunately, I am not acquainted with the music of Greg's first and most well known band Paper Bag.) However, unlike his first solo album "Always Look On the Dark Side of Life" (which I consider his second best album), I can't recommend this one to all of the lovers of Classic Art- and Space Rock. On the other hand, all those who are in search of something really fantastic, odd, and unique, created under the banners of both of these genres and Psychedelic Rock as well, will be very pleased with the new album by Greg Segal.

VM. March 1, 2002
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Related Links:

Greg Segal web-site: http://www.gregsegal.com/

Read the detailed reviews on all of the Jugalbandi albums here.


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