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2007 : VOLUME 58
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REVIEWS IN THIS ISSUE:


Fish - 13th Star
Fish - 13th Star
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Chocolate Frog
Records
Catalogue #:CF140207
Year of Release:2007
Time:55:30
Info:Fish
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Circle Line (6:04), Square Go (5:31), Milos De Besos (4:22), Zoe 25 (5:19), Arc Of The Curve (4:29), Manchmal (5:42), Openwater (5:07), Dark Star (6:48), Where In The World? (6:05), 13th Star (5:41)

What makes a good Fish album? The hit and miss attempts by the big Scotsman seem to point to a few success factors: (1) the more miserable the man is, the higher the chance of classic composition, (2) the co-writer for the music, (3) the arranger/producer (4) the band. Over the past 17 years there have been optimal combinations of these factors in the form of Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors (co-written with Mickey Simmonds) and Sunsets On Empire (co-written, arranged and produced by Steve Wilson). At the other end of the scale is an album like Fellini Days, which failed in all departments. Most of the other albums by Fish can be placed somewhere in between these two extremes.

I have often wondered why I liked Field Of Crows so much when I reviewed it three years ago. Maybe it was the utter disappointment with Fellini Days that sent me into a state of euphoria when listening to Field Of Crows. Whatever it was, I find it hard to re-rate that album with the 9 I gave it back in 2004. I hardly ever play it and although most of the songs are quite enjoyable this would mean that the album isn't the classic I thought it was when it was released. I therefore was much more careful and more sceptical when reviewing his new CD 13th Star. The first early versions of tracks I heard on Fish' MySpace page failed to impress me and the first couple of times I heard the finished album it didn't make much of an impression either. But this initial lack of enjoyment might well be the same, reversed effect of expectations based on previous work. Also, the continuing milking of the Misplaced Childhood performances and related releases had resulted in quite a bit of disillusionment with the man I had been admiring and following throughout the nineties.

Whatever it was, my initial disappointment has switched to substantial enjoyment of this new work by Fish. Now, hold your horses, this is no new Vigil or Sunsets On Empire (although some may claim otherwise), but it comes quite close to the latter. Also, whereas Vigil had no real songs I disliked and Sunsets only had one song I fiercely disliked (Tara) there are two or three songs on 13th Star that don't do much for me. But still, some of the songs are so strong, they lift the album to the Top 3 of studio albums released in Fish's solo career. In itself this is quite a surprise because I for one did not think much of the announced writing collaboration between Fish and his 10-year long bass player Steve Vantsis. Unlike Mickey Simmonds and Steve Wilson this was no big name that immediately set high expectations. This was rather unfair though, since Fish had never before written with Vantsis, so there was no way I could judge his composing skills. And skills he's obviously got, which gives us a plus on one of the four mentioned success factors.

Another outstanding area of the album is the production. Rather than reverting to one of his previous producers, some of whom utterly destroyed potentially classic albums, Fish opted for the help by Calum Malcolm, who worked with band like Blue Nile, Clannad, Wet Wet Wet, Prefab Sprout, Simple Minds and Nazareth. He engineered, mixed, produced and mastered the album, so he had a substantial role in the sound of the album. Now, Malcolm was also responsible for the mix of Fellini Days, so this may sound like a dangerous move. Then again, Malcolm also mixed Sunsets Of Empire, and that might be one of the reasons why the album at times sounds like 'Son Of Sunsets'. Like on Sunsets there's an openness to the music. There's lots of quiet breaks, lots of energetic outbursts. There are spots in which the music is almost minimalistic, with just one or two instruments accompanying the vocals, while at other times the arrangements are full and lush including vocal overdubs, female backing vocals and synth effects.

Another success factor is the band Fish gathered around him. On this record Fish combines the familiar with the new and fresh. Besides Steve Vantsis we see the return of veterans Frank Usher on guitar and Foss Patterson on keyboards. It's a matter of taste if you consider this to be a good thing or not. Personally I've never been impressed with Patterson's live performances with Fish, but he did compose and play some good tunes with Fish on the studio albums. And Frank Usher, well he does have that characteristic howling sound (e.g. in the end solo of Circle Line) that you'll find throughout Fish' back catalogue. Fortunately this sound is not present in all of the songs, otherwise the CD would not have sounded all that interesting. Added to these 'oldies' are Gavin John Griffiths (Karnataka, Mostly Autumn) on drums and Chris Johnson (Mostly Autumn) on guitar. Especially the combination of Vantsis' grooves and Griffiths unconventional drum patterns give the album a fresh and up-to-date sound that harks back to Sunsets.

Last factor would be Fish' personal state of mind. As mentioned, the more depressed the better the lyrics. The more heartache, the better the compositions. Those who have followed Fish' personal life over the past year will know about his planned marriage with Heather Findlay of Mostly Autumn, which got cancelled at the very last moment. We'll not go into the details here, but suffice to say that this has resulted in an emotional roller coaster that has firmly left it's mark on the lyrics of the album. Supposedly the albums is a lose concept about someone that lacks direction and needs guidance to reach his goal. Whatever the concept, the broken relation is present all over the album, especially in the songs on the second half of the CD. That's a check on another success factor.

As you've guessed by now I'm quite satisfied with 13th Star. This is mainly because of strong compositions, arrangements and production and a very open and at times groovy sound. Half of the songs on the album have a very rocking sound with a lot of emphasis on guitar riffs and nass grooves. This goes for the songs Circle Line, Square Go, Openwater, Manchmal and Dark Star, which not only happen to be the highlights of the album but also represent the new album in the current live performances.

Most songs have good changes of atmospheres with tasteful breaks or the songs move from heavy to gentle within their limited time spans. Also, there's quite a few songs with either vocal overdubs or reverb on the vocals so it seems like you actually hear Fish singing 2 or 3 times at once, giving his vocal performance much more 'body'. Some moments worth mentioning ... Square Go and Circle Line are quite similar tracks opening the album with good grooves and drum patterns. Square Go has one of those nice spoken bits full of aggression that Fish has done ever since Perceptions Of Johnny Punter, just before the song quiets down to a calming nursery rhyme-like melody. Manchmal has a lot of venom in the lyrics and music but in strong contrast with it's berserk first half it has a more atmospheric approach in the second part, thereby strengthening the song. Openwater is a Fish/Usher composition that works much better than their previous attempt Favourite Strangers; it's seriously funky and heavy at the same time and the wobbly synth effects add an extra dimension. Dark Star is (as the title suggests) very dark and moody and with it's low tempo a real stomper.

But as mentioned, it's not all gold that shines. Tracks that don't do much for me are the Fish/Patterson collaboration Miles De Besos and the song Where In The World. The first track is just too sweet for my taste (consider it the Tara of this album) and the second one doesn't seem to go anywhere and is only partially saved by the end section with female backing vocals. I'm also not that fond of Fish' use of German and Spanish bits in two of the songs; he'd be better of sticking to English.

That leaves three more tracks that all have their moments. The title track, 13th Star, failed to impress me until the folky baltic section kicked in with it's lovely Mike Oldfield-ish use of mandolins and female backing vocals, after which the song breaks down to a lovely guitar/piano ending. Think of the Sunsets On Empire track, but more peaceful. Zoe 25 is a bit of a strange song compared to the rest of the album. It's got a very Suzanne Vega-ish style with 'storytelling' lyrics. Just before the song gets too monotonous the style changes for a warm climax. Finally, Arc Of The Curve, could have been a real turn-off with it's bittersweet lyrics about the failed relation with Heather, but it's a song that grows on you thanks to a strong chorus and melodic hook.

The artwork is also worth mentioning. In this case I'm looking at the packaging of the limited edition that comes with a bonus DVD including an interesting 64 minute documentary about the making of the album. The documentary mainly consists of Fish dialoguing about the various stages in the writing and production process, which seemingly was a bit of a struggle for him at times. There are however also scenes where we see the musicians and producer at work, and quite a few tracks of Steve Vantsis and Fish working on pre-production. Coming back to the artwork, the outer slipcase is ... butt-ugly. It really is without a doubt the ugliest packaging ever delivered by Fish. The real treasure however lies inside though: a marvellous 3-panel painting by Mark Wilkinson depicting a moonlit sea watched by a naked tattooed man with a ship sailing the stormy waters (clearly a reference to the lyrics of Openwater). This might well be his best Fish artwork since the big Vigil painting. Inside the digipack is another beautiful painting of a mythical looking character sailing the sea. The booklet has some more artwork, some based on the big 3-panel design, but none of it is as stunning as that on the digipack.

To sum it up, this isn't the best Fish album, but it certainly is one of his better albums. Recently I saw him live with his band and I have to admit that I'd rather see him perform this material and some other solo classics than continuously rehash some of the old Marillion albums like Misplaced Childhood and Clutching At Straws. To be honest, the renditions by his band never equal the originals and who needs second rate Marillion covers when you've got quality material like the majority of this album ...

Conclusion: 8.5 out of 10

ED SANDER



RPWL - 9
RPWL - 9
Country of Origin:Germany
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2007
Time:61:26
Info:RPWL
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Trying To Kiss The Sun [live] (4:54), 3 Lights [live] (10:00), Let There Be More Light [live] (6:27), Tell Me Why [live] (5:11), Home Again [live] (8:26), Someone Else [Kalle Wallner] (5:43), Release Me [Manni Müller] (5:18), '48 [Yogi Lang] (5:26), Another Day [Chris Postl] (10:01)

German Floydian prog rockers RPWL are doing an UmmaGumma; after last year's live album Start The Fire they return with limited edition CD. Half live tracks and half solo compositions performed by the full band, the reference to Pink Floyd's UmmaGumma album are more than obvious. The big question is if the featured music will also mirror UmmaGumma; some early classics the band was planning to remove from their setlist combined with material that showed that only Gilmour and Waters were able to write some proper music without help from their fellow band members.

The choice of live tracks for this album is a bit strange here and there. Take for instance Trying To Kiss The Sun, this track was also present on the excellent Start The Fire live album in an almost identical version. The keyboard solo in this version is more prominent though, thanks to a different mix. Another strange choice is Tell Me Why, from the Trying To Kiss The Sun studio album, which can hardly be considered one of the band's more interesting songs. On a more positive note, the live section contains a nice rendition of Home Again and a seriously psychedelic moment in the form of Pink Floyd cover Let There Be More Light, a fine version of this often forgotten Floyd classic and a homage to RPWL's roots as Floyd tribute band. The absolute highlight of the live section is without a doubt 3 Lights, a fine track to begin with and one of the highlights of the band's latest studio album. This live version builds on the more powerful second section of the song and includes an energetic climax and extended Gilmouresque guitar solo. It makes me wonder why this excellent piece was not used for the Start The Fire album (I assume it was recorded after that album's release).

Next are the four solo compositions by the band members, performed by the full band. Those who have heard the album of Kalle Wallner's project Blind Ego will know what to expect of Kalle's composition. And indeed, Someone Else is a track that could have come straight of that album. It's a very guitar driven tune with great vocal hooks and both a keyboard and guitar solo.

Of the four tracks Release Me is maybe not the best but certainly the most surprising composition. It's a slow, fragile song with drummer Manni Müller on wonderfully dreamy vocals. One would almost wonder why this guy doesn't have a more prominent vocal role in the band. Of course the song also has a nice drum pattern and ends in a sixties manner that conjures up thoughts of The Beatles and the Beach Boys.

Yogi Lang's composition '48 is very lyrical heavy and as such obviously influenced by Roger Water's Amused To Death concept. The thought provoking topic of the Israeli-Palestinian problem is well worth mentioning. The only weakness of this track is that for RPWL standards it's not overtly adventurous in the musical department and with five and a half minutes in combination with the amount of lyrics it's maybe even a tad too long.

Last but not least, with it's ten minutes the closing track of the album, Another Day by bassist Chris Postl, is an epic in itself. Of all the four solo compositions this is the one that comes closest to what you'd expect of an RPWL track. The song starts in an atmospheric way with keyboards and goes through a whole range of styles and moods. There's sections with chunky guitar riffs, majestic vocal overdubs, lots of effects on the drum sounds and a very retro sounding keyboard solo. In the second half the song speeds up with wonderful drum rolls, howling guitar and processed vocals before moving into a section that has Genesis' Fading Lights written all over it. Still, it's a definite highlight on the album.

There's two conclusions one can draw after listening to the 'solo section' of this album. First of all, every band member has writing capabilities and having their songs performed by the band results in enjoyable tracks. Second, however, the band still gets the best results by collaborating. Although enjoyable, all of the songs miss one or more factors that make an RPWL classic. Sometimes the lyrics are great but the musical delivery slightly dull ('48), sometimes we get a great rock tune (Someone Else) or fragile ballad (Release Me) but the diversity of the band's classic tracks is missing. Another Day comes closest to what makes an RPWL classic.

As with Stock this limited edition feels a bit like something to keep the die-hard fans happy during the wait for the next real studio album, while at the same time gathering budget to finance that album. A strategy used by various (semi-)independent bands nowadays. There's really nothing wrong with that, we just need to keep in mind that material like this is not for the occasional RPWL listener but more suitable for die-hard fans. If you're not in this category you'll be better of trying one of the band's fine studio albums, or even better, sample their back catalogue and excellent Floyd covering skills on the aforementioned live album.

Chances are that the limited edition album has already sold out by the time this review appears on DPRP. If you are really interested though, don't worry, the band are selling it as a downloadable album in their online shop.

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

ED SANDER



P:O:B - Crossing Over
P:O:B - Crossing Over
Country of Origin:Norway
Format:CD
Record Label:Fish Farm
Records
Catalogue #:CGC 002
Year of Release:2007
Time:54:34
Info:P:O:B
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Father & Son (5:06), Promises (3:38), The Garden (4:17), Where the Rain Falls (3:51), Crossing Over (4:23), The Line (3:06), World Of Things (4:38), The Other Side (4:23), How Much More Than A Dream (3:03), The Altar Of Love (5:04), Why (4:41), Out Of The Rain (8:24)

Okay, everybody, check out this list of bands whose styles apparently merge in the sound of P:O:B: Queensr˙che, Black Sabbath, Dream Theater, and – TOTO? Well, that’s what the band says, but don’t let that wacky list put you off (as I’ll admit I did, before I heard the album). They don’t really sound precisely like any of those bands; though, oddly enough, Toto is not the out-of-left-field reference I at first thought, because whatever else this excellent Norwegian band’s CD is, it’s certainly melodic. I’d even dare to call three or four songs on it radio-friendly, and I mean that in an absolutely good way. I guess if the album has a flaw, it’s only a flaw in relation to its being reviewed for this website: it’s not really awfully progressive, even allowing for the broad range of definitions of that word we use at DPRP. But it’s a fine album deserving of a wide audience, and I’ll now explain why I say so.

First off, it’s one of those rare albums that ought to appeal equally to fans of slightly heavy progressive rock and to fans of slightly progressive heavy rock. If songs such as Promises could well be played on modern-rock radio (at least where I live), such songs as World Of Things, while still melodic and even catchy, introduce interesting keyboard and vocal touches that elevate it above the AOR norm. Imagine (in the case of World Of Things and a few others) a slightly heavier version of some of the stuff Spock’s Beard has been doing recently – I’m thinking of, say, As Long As We Ride from 2005's Octane. The extra heaviness comes courtesy of P:O:B’s guitarist Torfin Sirnes, who on this album raises power chords to something like a state of weighty delicacy: most of the songs are dominated by his thick, powerful chordal riffs, but, to my ear at least, they never drown or overpower the contributions of band-mates Johannes Stųle (vocals, keyboards) and Rudolf Fredly (bass).

What do they sound like, then? Anything like any of those bands in their list? Well, sure, some of the songs (check out especially The Other Side) owe a bit to the sound of Dio-era Sabbath, I guess; and some of Sirnes’s guitar solos wouldn’t sound out of place on this or that Dream Theater track. But really, I’ve never heard anything quite like these guys, and their greatest virtue is the one I mentioned in my last paragraph: while playing fairly heavy music, they retain a sense of delicacy, of nuance, eerie keyboards and interesting percussion and layered background vocals punctuating, reinforcing, and supporting each song’s main themes. And there’s another virtue: each song is a dynamite composition, with a strong beginning and strong ending and lots to offer between the two.

Aside from the songs I’ve mentioned already, I might especially recommend the excellent The Altar Of Love, with its eerie processed-vocal intro and outro, reminding me a lot of recent Porcupine Tree work, the rest of the song twisting and changing through several shifts of tempo and dynamics; the album’s title track, which is one of the most powerful of these songs and on which the superb harmony vocals soar through the chorus and stick in the brain even when the track is over; and Where The Rain Falls, which, opening with eerily phased electric-guitar arpeggios, confidently builds into a mid-tempo power-chorded stomper, while still walking that thin line between heaviness and subtlety I’ve mentioned. Throughout the album, I really ought to add, Johannes Stųle’s confident but not showy vocals complement the songs perfectly, delivering interesting and literate lyrics that are nicely supported by each song’s music and arrangements.

I’m so glad to have heard this band, and – I’ll pay them here my highest compliment – this disc will be going into my permanent collection, to be listened to and enjoyed, I’m sure, a lot in the future. I recommend it highly and anticipate eagerly P:O:B’s next album.

Conclusion: 8.5 out of 10

GERALD WANDIO



The Dreaming Tree –
Grafting Lines And Spreading Rumours
The Dreaming Tree – Grafting Lines And Spreading Rumours
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2007
Time:73:15
Info:The Dreaming
Tree
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Ring (4:55), The Changeling (2:04), Ashes (6:45), The Best Kind Of [The Alcohol Song] (5:30), Static (8:24), D.T. Suzuki (5:30), [The Roads Down Which Our] Dreams And Shadows Drive (3:46), Between The Lines (3:42), Unified (6:10), Your All That Ever Was (5:08), Nyrolex (4:57), Corner Of A Circle (5:22), Love, Love, Love (3:51), Remains The Same (5:11)

Because I always feel just the slightest bit bad when, in a review, I say that a band “sounds something like Band X, Band Y, and Band Z” – you know, it’d be nice to have to say that a band is unique, is incomparable – I ought to be thrilled to have this disc by The Dreaming Tree in my CD player for review. This band is unique, is incomparable. But that fact will make it darned hard for me to describe for you just what they sound like! I’ll begin by discounting as being valueless the touchstones given in their promotional literature, which cites as influences “Yes and Genesis, through Tool and back out [out where? Back from where?] to The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Dave Matthews Band.” Well, sure, it’s easy to imagine a band that sounds like both Yes and Dave Matthews, right? Let’s ignore that list and talk about just what we do have here.

The Dreaming Tree is a relatively new five-piece band from England; Grafting Lines And Spreading Rumours is their first full-length release, their previous CD having been a four-song EP. The musicianship of the five players is not in question; each of them knows his way around his instrument, and together they play as a nice tight band, too. I wanted to say that at the outset, because, while there’s good stuff here, the album as a whole isn’t a success (and nor are some of the individual songs), but I need to be clear that it’s not for lack of talent or ability. I think the problem is mainly one of diffuseness – and I guess that wacky list of influences is useful at least here as I make this point: the songs, and the album as a whole, are all over the place, and not really in a good way.

I’ll give some specific examples. To my ear, the worst offender is Corner Of A Circle, and it also in a way exemplifies the problem with many other songs and with the entire album. Corner Of A Circle starts out as a peppy semi-metal song, with a nice power-chord riff and propulsive drums. But about halfway through the song, the band loses its collective mind (I can only assume), as the song comes to a halt while the singer puts on four goofy voices (the last of which is, I think, supposed to sound like Elvis), repeating, to punctuation from the drums, “you get revenge so it’ll happen again” (I think). They lost me completely here – lost my sympathy and interest both. Nor does the song recover, though it returns to the riffing of the first half – they blew it with the silly, pointless middle section, short though it is. Love, Love, Love makes a similar mistake in a similar way, although it doesn’t even start off in such a promising way as does Corner Of A Circle: about two-thirds of the way through, there’s a noisy section filled with voices in the background, processed voices at that, that I guess is meant to divert but just annoys. And album opener Ring begins like a post-punk song from the 80's, with bouncy bass and a galloping rhythm that, though once again the tempo changes several times before returning to the original, wears thin long before the song is over.

There are some pretty good songs, too, though. Your All That Ever Was [I think they mean “You’re,” incidentally] is a semi-progressive love song/power ballad that begins with just piano, adds vocals, and then nicely builds with all the other instruments, sustaining interest to the end. Dreams And Shadows, so help me, begins as a lounge song, jazzy and lazy, but goes through some interesting changes through its length. And The Best Kind Of, with its lovely acoustic intro and interludes, illustrates (as do, I should acknowledge, most of the songs, even the ones I don’t think successful) the group’s interest in and command of dynamic shifts, and the song’s main riff is an appealing one – good thing, too, because it’s yet another long song.

So one of the problems is the too-varied styles on display here, and I say that as one who admires bands for not restricting themselves to a specific sound or couple of sounds – I like to hear different kinds of songs on an album. But what we have here is perhaps a bit too varied. And I have to make a complaint that regular readers will be familiar with: the songs, like the album itself, are too long. A band had better be very good indeed if it demands a listener’s attention for an hour and a quarter – almost twice as long as a typical LP from the good old days of 70's progressive rock – and this band simply doesn’t have enough to offer. I think that the band certainly has a future, and I think it’s in the more progressive vein explored by such songs as Remains The Same and Unified, but they need more focus, more attention just to writing solid, interesting songs. The talent and ability, as I said at the beginning, are there; I think all that’s needed is more experience.

Conclusion: 6.5 out of 10

GERALD WANDIO



Molecule – Interstellar
Molecule – Interstellar
Country of Origin:France
Format:CD
Record Label:Musea Records
Catalogue #:FGBG 4711.AR
Year of Release:2007
Time:45:40
Info:Molecule
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Interstellar (5:32), Eclipse (5:11), Transmission (5:27), Isomorphisme (5:51), Atmosphere (6:55), Oxygene (2:10), Stratosphere (4:58), Control for the Sun (5:12), Summer 69 (4:24)

A graphic designer friend of mine once said, “I have my best ideas when I borrow them from someone else.” That certainly seems to be the case with French musician Gerard Verran, who under the moniker Molecule has dipped into the work of Pink Floyd for Interstellar. Sound familiar?

The Molecule debut offering takes Floyd elements like sound effects (wind blowing, dripping water), dialogue snippets, and rolling gongs and cymbals and puts them aside the contemporary musical elements of trip-hop, ambient, and electronica. This is quite evident, as an example, on Atmosphere. The title says it all- indigenous nature sounds, synths, flute, a mid-tempo world beat, and a tolling bell not quite sampled, but nonetheless borrowed, from the Floyd tune High Hopes.

You can tell this is Floyd-inspired by glancing at the CD’s psychedelic cover art and the somewhat corny track listing with its somewhat Floyd like titles like Summer 69 and perhaps most obviously Eclipse.

Other comparisons besides the obvious Floyd boys lean towards Enigma, evident in the melancholy piano and slow, ambient flow of the track Control For The Sun. The Orb seems to be a reference point as well, perhaps most notably on Isomorphisme, which is accented with some silly monkey sounds and avante garde piano reminiscent of Rick Wright’s earlier Floyd contributions.

Interstellar has good, clean sound quality and is mixed well. As far as what is mixed goes, it can be debated. Aside from the Floyd references, the original music on the CD could have been composed with some more creativity. On the other hand, the rhythm of the contemporary music is something that could grow on a person after a while. There are no lyrics.

This CD will most likely appeal to fans of trip-hop and electronica in general and anyone with an ear for experimental music. As far as Pink Floyd fans go, the purists among them may frown upon the borrowing of their music, while a few fans may be amused by the novelty of it.

I personally think that Molecule could improve as a project with future releases by toning down on the Floyd stuff, focusing more on original work, and bringing a few other band members into the fold.

Careful with that muse, Gerard.

Conclusion: 6 out of 10

JIM CORCORAN



Daisuke Kunita – Fuzzy Logic
Daisuke Kunita – Fuzzy Logic
Country of Origin:Japan
Format:CD
Record Label:Poseidon Records
Musea Records
Catalogue #:MP 3115
Year of Release:2007
Time:54:32
Info:Daisuke Kunita
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Intro (0:47), Fragments (7:37), On Again, Off Again (6:24), Tonal Gravity (9:07), Sharp (7:04), Flat Line (8:11), 22 On 22 (6:35), Acid Approach (8:45)

Daisuke Kunita, born in Japan, started playing the guitar when he was 17, moved in 1999 to the USA to enter the Berkley College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. and in 2005 released his first album. Two years later Kunita releases Fuzzy Logic, an album with eight instrumental tracks that are not really easy accessible. So, it is not just another guitar album in the veins of guitar pickers like Vai, Satriani or Friedman.

The album starts with a short keyboard intro followed by an up tempo Jimi Hendrix-like riff/melody. The song further contains a lot of tempo changes and some great bluesy wah-wah solos. At the end of this amazing song you can even enjoy a couple of short drum solos. This song really is the best one on the entire album as on the rest of the album Kunita only plays Holdsworth-like jazzy/funky semi-acoustic like guitar solos.

Tonal Gravity is dominated by the piano playing of Kan Sano and this song really is too jazzy for me. Sharp also features a jazzy/funky intro followed by a keyboard solo and some laid back guitar picking. 22 On 22 is a Pat Metheny-like track filled again with funky and jazzy musical influences and those typical rather boring guitar solos. Where are the screaming guitar solos like in Fragments?

Kunita saves the worst for last as Acid Approach is dominated and “destroyed” by the alto saxophone solos played by Eiji Otogawa. In this song you almost hear no guitar whatsoever and therefore I would advise guitar lovers to skip this song entirely...

All in all a rather disappointing guitar album for me, but if you like jazz and funk and if you are into guitar picking like Holdsworth or Metheny then you even might like this album. I only enjoyed the first two songs (Fragments and On Again, Off Again), which is a pity as I think – rather know – that Kunita is an excellent guitar player.

Conclusion: 6 out of 10

MARTIEN KOOLEN




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