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(40:12, 'Lindsey Boullt')
TRACK LIST: 1. Page Revisited 4:30 2. Chasing the Whirling Dervish 3:47 3. Moving Panvishnu 4:02 4. Call For Peace 4:05 5. Bravo Davo de la Torre 3:26 6. Aurora's Aura 5:04 7. Grooving with Stu 2:16 8. Taste the Hate 2:38 9. Farewell 4:32 10. Cleopatra's Third Eye 5:45 LINEUP: Lindsey Boullt – el. & ac. guitars, mandolin Derek Sherinian – keyboards Jerry Goodman – violins Jeremy Colson – drums Stu Hamm – basses With: Peter Van Gelder – sitar Jon Herrerra – basses Atma Anur – drums &: Mingo Lewis – percussion (10) Sukhawat Ali Khan – vocals (4)
Prolusion. “Composition” is the debut album by Lindsey BOULLT, a songwriter and guitar player from California, USA, of whom I haven’t heard until now. However almost all of his primary partners on this recording – keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Yngwie Malmsteen, Planet X, solo), violinist Jerry Goodman (The Flock, The Mahavishnu Orchestra), drummer Jeremy Colson (Marty Freedman, of Megadeth and solo fame) and bassist Stu Hamm (Steve Vai) – are widely known in the progressive rock and related circles. So I was quite thrilled about the album already before I listened to it.
Analysis. When someone gifted in writing music bears his influences from such different genre sources as Art-Rock, Jazz-Fusion, Indian, Arabic, acoustic and classical music, as well as Prog-Metal, it’s always a sign of the breadth of views and therefore thinking too. And when such a person manages to gather an all-star lineup so as to record his first creation, it usually secures progress (of course, the talk on this resource can only be about a creative, but not commercial success). I see that, while cutting the cards, I’ve made already clear that this set consists exclusively of trumps, so all I have now is to distribute those by their hue :-). Composition is the key word for this outing of the same name, most of which is a smoking combination of all the styles mentioned, but particularly that aspect of the last one which only involves rapid, technically sharp-cut solos, four of the ten tracks present, Chasing the Whirling Dervish, Taste the Hate, Farewell and Cleopatra's Third Eye, perfectly suiting this idiom. No, not without heaviness, but that story is yet to come, as everything is good in its season. The largely acoustic Grooving with Stu and Aurora's Aura (a hint of one of Jean-Luc Ponty’s best recordings?) both lean a bit more in the jazz-fusion direction, the first of these being one of several compositions that stand out for some blazing sitar patterns, but especially for their blistering acoustic guitar leads. Moving Panvishnu, Page Revisited and Call for Peace belong to the disc’s prevalent style, all moving back and forth between the symphonic and fusion tendencies, with three detours into Prog-Metal along the way, this time around portraying the genre in its most widespread manifestation, with crunchy guitar riffs and so on. The last of these is the only composition here that, with great reserve, can be regarded as a song, since there are some vocalizations, delivered in the manner of Indian raga. Finally Bravo Davo de la Torre is an amazing progressive doom-metal piece that, though heavy throughout, isn’t monolithically hard in its construction: there are quite a few acoustic guitar passages that are skillfully interwoven with the basic textures. Now comes the time to view “Composition” in its overall appearance. The recording has a distinctly fresh quality to it, but in some inconceivable way, it’s at the same time reminiscent of “Visions of the Emerald Beyond”, the most symphonic album by The Mahavishnu Orchestra, and – to a lesser degree – of Led Zeppelin’s acoustic guitar-laden pieces as well as some string arrangements. It’s as if made by musicians from a parallel dimension, who’ve somehow picked up the corresponding tunes from our reality and then processed those through their own unique outlook. Okay, Jerry Goodman is not Ponty, so some of his violin leads may bring to mind, say, “Birds of Fire”, but the overall architecture of all the sections (save probably for the doom-metal one in the middle of disc opener Page Revisited) with the implied moves is almost physically fragile, which, while being generally atypical of the orchestra’s early work, is the characteristic exactly of “Visions”. There are also plenty of breathtakingly fast electric guitar leads courtesy of Lindsay on the recording, a lot of grandiose synthesizer and string ensemble lines by Derek Sherinian, as well as some wonderful sitar solos from Peter Van Gelder. The two main men behind the rhythm section, bassist Stu Hamm and drummer Jeremy Colson, are also worth mentioning, especially since neither come across as exclusively supporting musicians. Stu often gets a chance to join the primary soloists at the fore, while Jeremy shines for his complex rhythmic patterns, one of the compositions, Taste the Hate, having a section with only bass and drums in the arrangement. The project’s originator Lindsay Boullt, besides being a masterful musician, appears as an experienced composer and arranger, since none of the tracks are designed as showcases for his guitars or, to be more precise, the entire album sounds like a true ensemble effort.
Conclusion. “Composition” is an inspired, refreshing and challenging recording where most of the pieces have a sense of magic – something we meet with so rarely nowadays, when most so-called Progressive is just a pale shadow of what the genre should really be about, keeping in mind those blessed ‘70s. If you're equally fond of Art-Rock and Jazz-Fusion or rather just a true progressive rock fan, I’d recommend you check this CD out immediately, if you didn't already. One of last year’s essential releases, it’s a kind of belated, yet definitely welcome addition to my Top-20-2007.
VM: June 14, 2008
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