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(35:28, ‘The Guy’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Intro 1:05 2. Icarus 4:02 3. An Interlude in Bleu 4:33 4. Zebra Club 6:46 5. Youngblood 5:46 6. Syeeda's Song Flute 2:44 7. Her Hypnotic Heart 6:22 8. Something Beautiful 4:10 LINEUP: Christopher “The Guy” Schreiner – guitar Tyger MacNeal – drums David Livolsi – bass With: Chris Coogan – keyboards (3, 6)
Prolusion. THE GUY, aka Christopher Schreiner, is a US-based guitarist who has been playing the guitar since age 9. He graduated from the Berklee College of Music in 2005 and released a collection of compositions named "The First Seven" the same year. "Only Human" was self-released in 2008 and from what I can gather this is the official debut of this artist.
Analysis. An instrumental album from a more or less recent graduate from Berklee may not be what will make music fans run down to the store (or in this day and age: hit the net to find the shop that sells the CD) to buy the item in question. It's not that albums issued by music school graduates specializing in the guitar are uninteresting as such, but in the last couple of decades a plethora of guitarists have issued cascades of instrumental productions, quite a few of them have been exploring rather similar territories, and a few too many have focused way too much on showcasing speed and technique. In this particular case, speed is a mostly non-existent feature, though, and while I'm pretty sure that there's a vast array of techniques utilized here that a non-musician like myself won't be able to get, my impression is that the compositions are more important than the skills used to perform them for this guitarist. His choice of musical territory is an intriguing one as well: somewhat unusual for such a production, this album is an exploration of lush, mellow and mostly slow sonic tapestries. Gentle, fragile and sensual solo guitar is the main feature. Slow melodic explorations are the central feature of this production; in a few instances underscored by clean, mellow guitar licks sharing much the same qualities, while the keyboards supply additional textures on two tracks. Bass and drums provide a solid foundation for these excursions and the bass gets to dominate in a few select segments as well. The album as such reminds me quite a lot of the mid ‘80s outings by Wishbone Ash in sound; although not a dominant feature, most tracks contain small parts or brief segments that make me think of this band and such their releases as "Nouveau Calls" and "Here to Hear". For the first three explorations these tendencies are mixed with pacier runs that are somewhat similar to the gentler side of the earliest creations by Joe Satriani, while the next couple of compositions add blues-tinged elements in a vein quite similar to mid ‘70s Robin Trower. Next up is a John Coltrane cover and the very nature of that composition adds a jazzy streak to this album. For the last two tracks we're at first taken back to musical territories containing similarities to the mellow side of Satriani, while the final piece is a purebred lush guitar exploration with weeping fragmented guitar layers mixed with a gentle acoustic pattern and a repeated solo theme on top. This is a compelling creation overall, and although I doubt that any of these compositions will be regarded as instant classics they sure come across as better than average throughout, and the overall sound of this release isn't one overly explored either.
Conclusion. Besides the John Coltrane composition, Syeedas Song Flute, I doubt that this is an album that will be regarded as a progressive creation per se. But those interested in instrumental guitar explorations in general, and mellow, melodic ones of this nature in particular, may want to take a closer look at this release. Other guitarists may be curious about this one as well, although I guess that's a rather obvious assumption for such a creation.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: April 13, 2009
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