Radio review of Chronicles [transcript]
Chronicles is a collection of songs from a group of international musicians collectively known as City of Sound. The CD's sleeve notes say it best, so I'll quote them here: "This project began when a few musicians met on the internet and came up with a unique idea: What if a group of exceptionally talented international musicians, representing a variety of styles, collaborated to produce a project that is greater than the sum of its parts?"
Well, this CD is the result of that idea. As planned, it's got a wide variety of styles, some of which we won't cover here today — partly because the total time for this CD is over an hour and we simply don't have that much time in this program. Some of the musicians' names are difficult for me to pronounce, so I hope they'll forgive me.
If you'd like a copy of this CD get your pencil and paper ready. I have several available for the first few people who send me an email at the address I'll give you - at the end of the show.
The first track, Nick Layton's Storming the Castle, is a surprisingly tasteful combination of playing and writing, considering the fact that this track will just about blow your head off. It's got dynamite drum and bass tracks which in some instances match the guitar work note for note. At other times the intricate guitar riffs are set against a very basic, laid back rhythm. Together, these styles remind me of Yngwie Malmsteen's writing on his CD Rising Force. I'm not going to say more about it here, except that this is the title track from Nick's CD, which I look forward to reviewing soon.
Marble Town Masquerade by Tyler Goyak, is a beautiful acoustic track, which reminds me a bit of the way Michael Hedges sometimes wrote.
You might recognize the next track, Frozen Heart, as our theme song, which Paul Tauterouff was kind enough to allow us to use. Paul is a professional guitarist and teacher whose style ranges from sounding a bit like Gary Hoey to Joe Satriani. You can check out his website: paultauterouff.com, which has a lot of information about enhancing your musical career, lots of information and links to some other great music and musicians.
Now… I've got a lot of respect for people such as John Tesh, who wrote the NBA and NFL themes a few years ago. I thought it was really cool how those themes get your attention right from the start. Well, this track was written by Paul in that same way. It reaches out and grabs you and hooks you with a cool lick right at the beginning. The dual leads are tastefully done and the entire song feels "strongly" written — it makes a statement and allows no room for debate.
… As I mentioned earlier, I've heard Paul play previously and know what he's capable of coming up with for improvised leads, so the first time I heard this song I wondered where the improvised solo was. Ahh… but wait, there's a nice one about 45 seconds from the end of the song! Obviously I hadn't listened to the entire recording the first time I heard it. Initially, I regretted that he hadn't included more of that style of playing, but after thinking about it some more I realized that having more of that type of solo, or having it earlier in the song, would have negated the effectiveness of the dual lead tracks he laid down and ruined the feel of the entire song. Paul did a great job of restraining himself on this piece. In my opinion, that, plus his writing and execution, reflect the degree of his professionalism.
Here's Frozen Heart…
Dancing In Gobbler's Gulch is by Old Ironsides. It's a real soulful track which, speaking of hooks, has a catchy, classic lick which "almost" sounds familiar… It's also got great bass and drum lines, and it has a rather spooky-sounding section which I guess is supposed to represent Gobbler's Gulch. That's where the best bass and drum lines are.
Archetypes, by Angel Zamora, starts out soft and pretty, then assaults your ears with a precision guitar and drum pyrotechnic attack which pretty much blows your mind. Then it closes with a jazz-like section which sounds very avant-garde.
The next track is by a fellow from Oklahoma named Ysrafe, called Awakening Beams. Ok, even though this piece has what sounds like a drum-machine and little birdies chirping on it, it's pretty good. The birds aren't used as a crutch for good writing, and the drum machine part is tasteful, even though it does sound a bit like a disco piece when it starts. The guitar work is thoughtful in places and amazing in others and over all, listening to this track is a bit like the jolt of caffeine you get while drinking your first morning cup of coffee.
Mike Philippov wrote Pensive, which feels a bit all-over-the-place, like many of the other tracks on this CD – not that it's a bad thing, mind you. I'm just saying that it starts out softly and intricately, but very definitely with a modern electric feel. Then the drums kick in, and look out, we're off to the races! Later on it slides into cruise control for a little while, but then strongly accelerates for the final stretch. Then it coasts into a winners' victory lap which is as soft and intricate as the track was when it began.
Hawk performs their track, simply titled 66, which is stereotypical double-bass-drum-sounding metal. There are a few places in this track where the bass and guitar are doing something fast and difficult with the drums and there are some runs which sound like they might have had something interesting done with them, but didn't. This is one of the few tracks on this CD which I think are merely "ok".
Insomnia, by Zack Uidl, is yet another track which starts out softly and finishes strong. It's an awesome display of tasteful guitar pyrotechnics, which also leaves room for occasionally-prominent keyboard licks.
Spearhead, by Chris Wheeler, starts out strong with a blistering guitar part, then slides into a more rhythmic section which has a gliding solo over a more basic beat. But it doesn't glide for long, breaking out into another pyrotechnic solo. Later on it has some nice dual guitar leads.
Harald Wohlt's Behind Fences is a relaxing departure from most of the other tracks on this CD. It's tasteful and relaxing, reminding me occasionally, a little bit, of some of David Gilmour's solos. Yet, it has a Latin feel in places. It picks up steam in the middle and then winds down for the closing. Tastefully done!
Thanks for listening.