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Matthew D. Guarnere (USA) - 2002 - "MDG"
(52 min, 'What's Real Unlimited')

1. A Little Chemistry 2:27
2. White Trash Wonder 3:01
3. Song For Mercury 4:40
4. Where's Everybody Gone 3:09
5. Chemistry Experiment 5:00
6. MDG 6:10
7. Interview

All music & lyrics by MDG, except: 
Track 3 - music by MDG & R. Scribble.
Produced, engineered, & mastered
by MDG at 'WRU' studio.


Matthew D. Guarnere - drums & percussion;
vocals; guitars
Robert Scribble - piano & synthesizers
A. D. Zimmer - fretted bass


Paul Smoker - trumpet (on 7)
Mike Ciranni - acoustic guitar (4)
Mike Gallagher - lead electric guitar (3)
Jay J. Palermo - stunt guitar (2)
Ethan Porter - bass (1)

Prologue. This is my first acquaintance with the music of Matthew D. Guarnere. According to the CD press kit, he started a musical career in the first half of the 1980s.

The Album. Five out of the six songs that are presented on "MDG" (the only exception being Where's Everybody Gone, track 4, to which I'll return to a bit later), were created within the framework of a unified stylistics, the definition of which, should, in my view, be made apparent to you. This is a very effective blend of Classic Art-Rock and progressive Hard Rock of a theatrically dramatic character, which, though, has nothing to do with the music of Genesis and the like. Rather, Queen could have a similar sound had they been a truly progressive band with a different lead singer. Though, the parts of a wonderful choir (*one-man choir, to be precise) that episodically appear on all of the songs here, reminds me of those of Queen quite clearly. (*Of course, all those parts consist of Matthew's different vocals, all of which were overdubbed.) Fortunately, all of the other vocal parts on the album, and especially those of lead vocal, are original and, sometimes unique and innovative. The instrumental arrangements are not only original, but also very diverse throughout the album. With the exception of the aforementioned Where's Everybody Gone, each of the songs on this album includes a few episodes, in which a wide variety of short, yet, always different vocal and instrumental parts change each other more frequently than "kaleidoscopically". As for each of these five songs as a whole, the (merely) frequent changes concern also tempos, moods, etc. Though, of course, the arrangements that are present on all three of the album's long tracks: Song For Mercury, Chemistry Experiment, and MDG (3, 5, & 6), are more large-scaled and richer sounding (I didn't say "more diverse", though) than those on A Little Chemistry and White Trash Wonder (1 & 2). Well, while all five of the songs that I've just called, are about a theatrically dramatic fusion (huh) of Symphonic Art-Rock and progressive Hard Rock, Where's Everybody Gone is nothing else but an excellent acoustic ballad. The diverse rhythms, passages, and even solos of acoustic guitar and very inventive vocals are what this song is overall about. It must be said that Matthew's vocal acrobatics are incredibly diverse and amazing throughout the album, and his singing can easily be regarded as another soloing instrument. Sometimes, his voice is quite rough, though, more often, he sings like a real operatic vocalist. Note that Matthew is originally a drummer, and his drumming on this album is also remarkable. Apart from very impressive episodes that I've mentioned above, all five of the remaining songs contain also such essential progressive features as contrasting interplay between various soloing instruments and complex stop-to-play movements. The vocals, virtuosi solos of lead guitar, tasteful riffs of electric and bass guitars, lush and clearly symphonic passages of synthesizer, and the parts of drums, as well as varied interplay between all of these instruments, are featured on each of the said five songs. The passages of piano play an important role in the arrangements on A Little Chemistry, Chemistry Experiment, and MSG (1, 5, & 6). The first two of these songs are also marked with bright and masterful solos of synthesizer. The magic sounds of Church Organ and brilliant solos and passages of Hammond organ are present on Song For Mercury (3, which I find the best song on the album), and MDG (6). The first of them contains, in addition, the lush passages of a virtual string ensemble, and the latter song wonderful solos of trumpet. Finally, still the same MDG is not only the longest, but also the only track here that, apart from a classic acoustic ballad Where's Everybody Gone, features the solos of acoustic guitar. Matthew's brief interview that is presented on track 7 is notable for the inclusion of the excellent instrumental episodes between answers and questions.

Summary. Strangely enough, I hadn't before heard of such a talented composer and musician as Matthew D. Guernere, whose musical career is, moreover, so long. I would not be surprised if I would know that before creating his own label (What's Real Unlimited) he had a contract with some of one major label. Back to the current creation of Guernere, if Matthew would destroy at least the most intricate arrangements in his music, his chances to get the status of mainstream's artist would be higher than zero. Furthermore, if he would refuse to use any progressive elements in his music at all (or almost at all, like in the case of the same Queen in the beginning of the 1980s), I would be almost sure that his popularity would grow by leaps and bounds. Of course, it's quite another matter if Matthew's purposes are different from my profuse talk, which, nevertheless, always concerns a dream of the reincarnation of Progressive within the marvelously broad framework of mainstream. Finally, I'd like to mention that my rating scale is currently looking a bit differently: no more "satisfactory" albums! Here it is.

- Six stars - masterpiece: ******
- Five stars - excellent album: *****
- Four stars - good album: ****
- Three stars - mediocrity: ***
- Two stars - weak album: **
- One star - poor album: *

VM. September 24, 2002

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