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Segal, Greg (USA)
Overall View - 2

Prolusion. Here is another Overall View that is dedicated to the solo creation (early solos creation, to be precise) of the remarkable composer and multi-instrumentalist Greg Segal. To read the Overall View on the later creation of Greg and that on his project Jugalbandi, click >here and >here.

1986/2002 - "The Fourth of the Three"
(54 min, 'Phantom Airship')

1987/2002 - "Night Circus"
(42 min, 'Phantom Airship')

1988/2002 - "Night Circus-II"
(52 min, 'Phantom Airship')

1989/2002 - "Live at Be Bop Records" (as Cold Sky)
(55 min, 'Phantom Airship')


1986/2002 - "The Fourth of the Three"
(54 min, 'Phantom Airship')
*****+

Track List:

1. Giger Landscape 15:50
2. Ialdabaoth 15:48
3. Horsehead 7:02
4. Discharge 15:52

All tracks: by Greg Segal.

Solo Pilot:

Greg Segal - electric guitar & effects

Synopsis. I don't think it matters much how this album is titled as a whole - "The Fourth of the Three" or "Three of a Perfect Pair". According to the musical contents of it however, I would rename the titles of all four of the tracks that are featured here (and all of them are long instrumental compositions). In my view, the most appropriate titles for them would be - Track 1: The Birth of Galaxy - in two parts: Birth and Chaos. Track 2: Formation. Track 3: Heyday. Track 4: At the Edge of All - in three parts: Decadence, Death, and Reincarnation. Only somewhat cosmic winds, and they're certainly not of an earthly origin, blow in the beginning of the first compositions on the album. The further events include the outbursts of supernovas, the appearance of comets and the like cosmic objects, the flights of which are accompanied by lots of mysterious echoes and other spacey sounds. The 'chaotic' part of the piece is dedicated to various abstract, yet at the same time, hypnotic (and even charming in some ways) interplay between some of one distant star and a few of the planets that are about to join it and form its system. Wonderfully, the real guitar solos and riffs and a few of the echoed sounds are different among themselves throughout this and all the other compositions on the album. Apart from the obvious guitar-based parts, from time to time, Greg also reproduces a sound that reminds me of nothing else but passages of synthesizer. All of this is present in the arrangements on each piece on the album where there are certainly no repetitions at all. Track 2, about which I've already used to think as of Formation, is a bit more structured and is notably less heavy and dark than its predecessor. While comets and the other restlessly indefatigable objects of Galaxy are still completely unruly, a gravitational dialogue between a new sun and a few of its planets becomes more and more harmonious here. The flowers of spacey magic blossom out to the melodies of hymn to Universe on both of this and the following compositions on the album. The third one, which I dare to call Heyday (of a Galaxy), is the only track here, which is slightly out of the album's predominant stylistics, which, in its turn, is a unique and highly innovative Space Rock. (Which, in its turn, is typical for the most part of Greg's creation, while the use of intentional tautologies is typical for this reviewer.) Heyday is about a guitar-based fusion of Space Rock and Art-Rock, which is unique and innovative as well. The latter genre constituent of this composition, though, is sometimes noticeable for symphonic shades, too. Not only a few of the simultaneous, yet, different solos of electric guitar are heard here along with the synth-like passages, but also those of bass and even percussion (sometimes). The music on this composition contains many of the unusual, yet, real interplay between all of the said 'instruments' and by no means many effects, unlike any of the other pieces on "The Fourth of the Three". In comparison with the other tracks on the album, the music here sounds quite peacefully, though at the same time, with confidence. Now, I think it shouldn't be difficult for you to imagine the contents of the last track on the album, which, moreover, I divided into three parts. Certainly, this highly innovative musical performance is a kind of the one-actor theater representing a solo, yet, very successful pilot-explorer of the unknown worlds of Space. (And quite right you are! This is certainly Greg Segal :-) As for "The Fourth of the Three" as a whole, this is probably the most unique and, what's central, most imaginative Space Rock album I've ever heard. Those who are seriously into a serious Space Rock, please note this, as well as "Related Links" below.

VM: January 8, 2003
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1987/2002 - "Night Circus"
(42 min, 'Phantom Airship')
****

Track List:

1. Introduction 2:06
2. Dream Landscapes 1:22
3. As the Sky Turns To Fire-1 2:08
4. As the Sky Turns To Fire-2 2:54
5. Audience 1:47
6. The Center 2:59
7. For Ann 7:15
8. Running Water 3:50
9. Black Sunsets 6:38
10. Cold Sky 5:40
11. Erebus 2:25
12. I Hold the World For Ransom 3:15

All music & lyrics: by Greg Segal.

Line-up:

Greg Segal - vocals; guitars; organs; bass; drums
Kenny Ryman - synthesizers

Produced & mixed by Greg Segal at 'Phantom Airship'.
Recorded by Kenny Ryman at his home studio & 'PA'.

Synopsis. Consisting of twelve tracks, only four of which are songs, "Night Circus" is stylistically the most heterogeneous among those albums by Greg Segal that I've heard up till now. Four out of the eight instrumental pieces are here about that original, highly innovative Space Rock, which is a central hallmark of "Experiment Guitar Sampler" (see review above) and all the albums of Greg's project Jugalbandi. These are Introduction, The Center, Running Waters, and Erebus (1, 6, 8, & 11). All of them feature the slow, yet, constantly developing interplay between passages of synthesizer and solos of electric guitar that, being surrounded by echoes and overtones, are actually those unique Segalaces that I've described in still the same review of the "Experiment Guitar Sampler" album. With the exception of Introduction, the narration of either dark or dramatic character is present on any of the said pieces and each of the remaining three instrumentals as well. It also must be said that all seven of the instrumental compositions on the album are filled with a dark, tense, and mysterious atmosphere. Dream Landscapes (2), where a dramatically tense narration is accompanied only by passages of semi-acoustic guitar and echoes, is of a spacey Art-Rock 'origin'. The most unusual musical entities (I'd even say "aliens") are based on the third and fifth 'planets' of the "Night Circus I" system. As the Sky Turns To Fire-1 (3) consists exclusively of various effects and voices, all of which, though, are exclusively of a nightmarish nature. The deterrent effects, slow, yet, highly tense passages of synthesizer, and sepulchral voices are the content of Audience (5). To be honest, if I were in Greg's shoes I would've never included both of these pieces in this album (as well as any other album, though). There is nothing original, etc, on both of these tracks, the first of which, moreover, isn't a musical work. Since now, before listening to this album, I'll have to exclude these tracks when programming my CD player. A total playing time of the remaining ten tracks is equal to 38 minutes, which is enough for a full-length album and quite all right with me as well. Now, it's time to name the best tricks-tracks of "Night Circus", almost all of which are songs, if you remember. Although As the Sky Turns To Fire-2 (4) is an instrumental composition, it shouldn't be described separately from songs, as all of them are in many ways similar among themselves - both structurally and stylistically. Indeed, As the Sky Turns To Fire-2, For Ann, Black Sunsets, Cold Sky, and I Hold the World For Ransom (4, 7, 9, 10, & 12) are the best compositions on this album. Which is despite the fact that, unlike all five of the real instrumental pieces here, all of these contain a few repetitions, and some vocal parts remind me of those of Peter Hammill. Nevertheless, all of them, performed with the complete set of instruments that are listed above, are rich not only in sound, but also in essential progressive features. Musically, the first three of them (4, 7, & 9) are in the vein of Greg's 'firm' fusion of a heavy Space Rock and either a guitar-based or symphonic Art-Rock. The instrumental content of Cold Sky (10) represents nothing else but a real Space Metal. I Hold the World For Ransom (12) is the only composition on the album, the stylistics of which is Classic Symphonic Art-Rock. Also, it needs to be said that all five of the best compositions on the album are marked not only with dark, but also with dramatic shades. As for my personal favorites on "Night Circus", these are For Ann, As the Sky Turns To Fire-2, and I Hold the World For Ransom (tracks 7, 4, & 12 respectively). Finally, I think that Summary should concern both of the "Night Circus"-related albums.

VM. December 18, 2002
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1988/2002 - "Night Circus-II"
(52 min, 'Phantom Airship')
******

Track List:

1. Night Circus-1 20:51
2. Night Circus-2 3:43
3. Watcher 26:30
4. The Last Ride 1:22

All music & lyrics: by Greg Segal.

Line-up:

Greg Segal - vocals; guitars; organs; 8-string bass; drums
Kenny Ryman - electric keyboards; loops

Synopsis. Stylistically, "Night Circus II" is probably the most inconsistent among those Greg Segal albums that are about Space Rock, which is despite the fact that Space Rock is a predominant genre here as well. Which, in its turn (and by the way), is a very positive aspect showing Greg's tendency to the constant transformation of his singularly original and unique style. In my honest opinion, the 20-minute opening track of the album, Night Circus-1, is one of the best works, to say the least, ever created by Greg. Musically, it represents a unique (not heavy!) Space Rock with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock and the bits of Prog-Metal. Even though everything is here in the state of a constant development, as a whole, this piece sounds like being thoroughly composed and not only. Although there is enough of a mysterious darkness of spacey depths on Night Circus-1, overall, it has a very distinctive, 'Earthly', dramatic feel to it. And I believe that our earthly problems (not only, of course) are inseparable from universal ones and all of them have an influence on each other. So I'd say that the overall sound of the first epic on the album is in addition quite topical. The musical palette of Night Circus-1 is very rich. With the exception of those of synthesizers, all the parts of the other instruments: Church and Hammond organs, electric, acoustic, and bass guitars, and real drums, were here performed by Greg. Though the same words can be said with regard to the album as a whole. Surprisingly, the 4-minute Night Circus-2 (2) turned out to be nothing else but the Classic Space Rock song. Performed up-tempo, it is certainly heavy and quite dark. While there are the repetitions of vocal themes on this song, the purely instrumental arrangements are here excellent and by all means. The second 'side-long' track on the album, the 26-minute Watcher, was originally devised as an epic. Stylistically, it represents a blend of Space Rock and Art-Rock, both of which are just Symphonic, and consists of several parts, half of which are real songs, while another half of them represent instrumentally narrative pieces. Watcher is also one of the most interesting works of Greg, though it is a bit less impressive than the monumental Night Circus-1. The last track on the album, The Last Ride (4), which, apart from a narration, features the interplay between the slow passages of organ and synthesizer, is much in the vein of the instrumentally narrative pieces that are present on Watcher and sounds just like the outro of this epic. To be honest, I didn't expect that I'll find "Night Circus-1" the weakest album by him, even though this is a good album overall. On the other hand, here's the hero of this review, "Night Circus II", which I regard not only as the best of those albums by Greg that I've heard up till now, but also as a complete masterpiece.

VM: January 21, 2003
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1989/2003 - "Live at Be Bop Records"
(55 min, 'Phantom Airship')
*****

Track List:

1.  Under the Bridge 6:32
2.  The Invasion 6:46
3.  Blacklight Towers 5:05
4.  Nothing in the Dark 2:30
5.  If I Die Tomorrow 5:47
6.  Clear Day 5:53
7.  A Man Who Was Here 6:35
8.  King of Illusion 16:26

All tracks: by Segal, except
3: by Segal / Radai / Sosnow.

Recorded live without overdubs.
Engineered by Sosnow.

Synopsis. Cold Sky was one of a few bands led by Greg Segal and consisted of him on electric guitars and vocals, George Radai on bass, and long-time friend and collaborator Hyam Sosnow on drums. The 55-minute "Live at Be Bop Records" album features eight tracks, three of which are instrumental pieces. All of them were created within the framework of a unified stylistic concept representing an excellent and original guitar Art-Rock with elements of Rhythm & Blues. Great virtuosi solos of guitar and the interplay between them and those of bass flowing to the accompaniment of diverse and intensive drumming are typical for each of them. Two out of the four songs located at the core of the album are about quite an accessible Rhythm & Blues with some elements of progressive Hard Rock, while both of the others are done in the vein of a real, diverse and complex, progressive Hard Rock and contain just outstanding instrumental arrangements. The last and the longest track here: the 16-minute King of Illusion stands separately from all of the other tracks on the album. A 'cocktail' of a few genres and styles: Progressive Hard Rock, Space Rock, guitar Art-Rock, drum Jazz Rock, and bass Acid Rock is what King of Illusion is on the whole about. There are only a few vocal parts on it, and most of the instrumental arrangements here are 'divided' between an amazing speedy jam that all of the instruments used on the album are involved in and a long drum solo. "Live at Be Bop Records" is in many ways a remarkable album, and only the presence of two simple Rhythm & Bluesy songs here doesn't allow me to rate it as a masterpiece.


Conclusion. Now, it's clear that the early creation of Greg Segal, who is not only a highly talented composer-innovator, but also a really outstanding multi-instrumentalist, is very interesting and diverse as well. IMHO, Greg Segal is one of the most (if not just the most) brave, profound, and inventive explorers of the depths of Space Rock, and not only.

VM: July 25, 2003
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Related Links:

Greg Segal


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