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(58 min, 'JA')
TRACK LIST: 1. Vital Statistics 5:57 2. Back of My Hand 5:09 3. Heaven Or the End 4:39 4. Night Flight 5:32 5. Muses 4:42 6. Violet 5:13 7. Noticing Change 4:07 8. Patience 3:17 9. Child's Play 3:35 10. In Anticipation 4:21 11. Bored 5:11 12. Mars 4:24 All tracks: by Anfinson. Produced by Anfinson. LINEUP: Jane Anfinson - electric violin; vocals John Wright - electric & acoustic bass Eddie Estrin - drums & percussion With: David Lewis - percussion (1, 6, 11)
Prolusion. Jane ANFINSON, a violinist and composer from Arkansas, doesn't have a website. According to the CD press kit, she has been around for many years, playing with various local bands all over America. "Precious Details" is the debut solo album by the artist (available for sale from CD Baby: see Related Links below the review).
Analysis. Can you imagine what a classic Hard Rock guitar trio would be like if it had been fronted by a female singer and using an electric violin as the primary soloing instrument instead of guitar? If so, you've already half opened this music, before you even have it in your hands. Indeed, you don't have to be rocket scientist to understand where Jane Anfinson takes her inspiration with just one listening of the CD, although the music isn't caged within the traditional, most widespread, form of the said style either; it's varied in mood and some other characteristics. What's most obvious and consistent throughout her material is Jane's rather unusual approach to playing violin, as she creates her music's fundamental structure by doing meaty guitar-like riffs, at times flavored with amazing pizzicatos, using mainly the instrument's low timbres to make a distinctively dense and harsh sound. The opening song, Vital Statistics, and also Violet, taking the sixth position, with their slow, dark and hypnotizing music, have a definite reference to one of the genre's most ambitious manifestations, Doom Metal, and there is a strong resemblance between them and early Black Sabbath stuff on a structural level. Jane's vocals, which are naturally rather low, are distinctly dramatic, well fitting the general musical concept, though the lyrics are materially minded, with no supernatural personages or social protests, either. Back of My Hand, Heaven Or the End and Night Flight, following one another after the opening number, develop in a similar manner, but are somewhat faster and lighter in mood, the Folk Rock colorings coming to the surface. Although quite peaceful and atmospheric, the song that precedes Violet, Muses, arouses even more vivid associations with Black Sabbath. Those who've heard their Planet Caravan (from "Paranoid") or Changes ("Vol. 4") can get a more intimate idea of what the ballad is about. Please only never forget that "Precious Details" is a violin-laden music and that the resemblance exists exclusively on a structural level, so it's not a case of direct influence. There is one more remarkable track in the middle of the album. The one instrumental composition, Noticing Change, marks a radical style change, indeed. Being the most symphonic in sound, due to the overdubbed violin solos, Noticing Change has some certain common ground with Classical music. The still unnamed five songs, all being located beyond the album's equator, are somewhat less impressive, fully suiting the generalized definition of the initial comparison, that of the Hard Rock Trio. Starting with Patience, the music begins receding from the successfully found formula, becoming more and more affirmative, reaching the culmination of joy on In Anticipation. The album gets its 'happy ending' on the Joni Mitchell-stylized ballad Mars.
Conclusion. There is no particular virtuosity or diversity on "Precious Details", but most of the music is notable for a rather innovative approach to familiar forms and is pretty delicious in general. If you consider the aforementioned English ensemble the very first genuine Prog-Metal band, as I do, expect some nice surprises, particularly on the album's first half, even if the music is not really Metal at all. Otherwise look elsewhere. Not for traditional Prog lovers.
VM: October 27, 2005
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