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TRACK LIST: 1. Arm Or the Leg 4:27 2. 13 Stitches 4:07 3. Flagpole 5:08 4. Brain Freeze 3:43 5. Pinkeye 1:02 6. Running with Scissors 4:43 7. Saturday Morning Cartoons 4:10 8. Below the Belt 5:01 9. Snow Day 4:23 10. Red Rocks 5:14 11. Suspended By Rain 1:36 12. Dodgeball 3:43 LINEUP: Pete Laramee – guitars; keyboards Jeff Laramee – drums Luis Nasser – bass
Prolusion. Pete LARAMEE is an American guitarist and songwriter, a permanent member of Kurgan's Bane, who also played with Dysfunctional Family. He issued his first solo album in 2002, and "Childhood Memories" is his second creation as a standalone effort.
Analysis. Fans of Kurgan's Bane should take an interest in "Childhood Memories": although a solo album from a band member, the rest of the group actively participates in this creation: all except the vocalist that is, this being an instrumental release. What gladdens me is that this is no typical guitar player's solo production. Even though the differences between it and the more common albums typical of the style aren't extreme, it does contain an approach and attitude that aren't common in the average venture in this particular type of production. The most profound difference that strikes me with this release concerns the inspirations for the compositions. Usually these kinds of outings will have tracks named more or less in an imaginative manner, from quasi-philosophical-sounding track titles to ones with a relation to the realms of fantasy or science fiction, often without any explanations offered whatsoever. In this case the album title "Childhood Memories" is pretty revealing, and there are liner notes for all the compositions describing a set of events or emotions that inspired each individual creation. If this is really the case or more a promotional gimmick is hard to say, and even if it is this doesn't reveal too much about the music as such, apart from a philosophical difference in the compositional approach. In this case the 12 explorations on this album do show a few notable differences with typical ventures of the genre as well. The tracks are generally shorter than usual, with just three of them barely crossing the 5 minute mark, and although guitar soloing is a constant and dominating feature on the album overall, there's less soloing here than on your typical instrumental guitar release, especially considering the mostly metal-flavor style explored here. The solo segments showcasing technical virtuosity and speed are kept to a minimum, and creating strong moods and compelling atmospheres seems to have been more important than showcasing individual abilities. Quirky riff patterns are common, mixed liberally with mellow guitar segments and drawn out riffs, and quite often we get to enjoy these ventures without an additional guitar solo on top as well. Additional features are synth solos, first and foremost on the track where Derek Sherinian makes a guest appearance, Red Rocks: elsewhere the synthesizers have more of a subsidiary role in the soundscapes when present. As style variations go we're treated to a few select segments where jazz-tinged elements are brought in, the most common of these a wandering, dominant bass line underscoring a guitar solo theme. There are also two instances of brief explorations where the acoustic guitar is the central mood provider, Pinkeye and Suspended By Rain respectively, the latter also featuring an intriguing synth layer adding to the atmosphere already created.
Conclusion. This isn't a groundbreaking or revolutionary album where one can point out unique aspects or approaches. It does come across as a production where the aim has been to create a total package where all details collectively offer an individual approach, and I do suspect that one of the goals of this album has been to make an instrumental guitar creation that will have an appeal beyond the crowd of fellow guitarists and aficionados of this particular genre. And it is quite successful in that respect, the way I see it. Recommended!
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