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Old 03-20-2013, 10:28 AM   #1731 (permalink)
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Yes, you're right: I'm rolling out all the older sections I haven't had a chance to look at recently, what with my new journal and the larger features I'm working on, not to mention Christmas and all those 2012 albums I had to catch up on. Still plenty more planned for the ol' Playlist, but for now I'd like to look back to an album that definitely deserves the above description. If I had a section called "Disappointing albums" I think this would certainly fit in that category. There are maybe two or three, at a stretch, good tracks on it and the rest I just don't like at all.

No angel --- Dido --- 1999 (Arista)

Look, you can't get more pretentious than to have the name Dido Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Armstrong, but I suppose at least she wasn't just taking the name from history. I was always rather surprised to find that Madonna was the singer's real name; thought it surely must be an assumed one. But no, it's the one she was christened with, and here again we find that Dido is this girl's real name. Mind you, the third part of her name certainly suits her as far as I'm concerned, because I found her music, through this album, almost exclusively depressing, whiny and self-indulgent. I wouldn't even call it melancholy, because that suggests a certain amount of acceptance. Dido's music --- at least on "No Angel" --- comes across to me as "poor me" all the time, none the moreso than her big hit single which, though ostensibly a song of gratitude, if you dig not too far beneath the surface, is all about her and what she has to put up with every day. Not that we all don't have to go through the same thing, Dido: you're not unique you know.

But to the album. Let's dispose of the good tracks first. Won't take long.
First though, let's allow credit where it's due. Dido does at least write or co-write every song on this album, so she's not just singing someone else's songs. Paradoxically that may be a bad thing, as the ideas then, and the tone and mood of the songs can be at least partially attributed to her, and she can't blame anyone else for misrepresenting her. Not that I'm sure she cares one bit, but it's a common thread of doom and despair and, well, basically sulkiness that comes through this album for me at any rate.

Despite what I said above, I have to admit "Thank you" is a decent enough song, even if the whining does get on my nerves.
Spoiler for Thank you:

The opener too is okay, even though it bears something of a striking resemblance to the big hit single...
Spoiler for Here with me:

And the only track I really like is the closer, which is I think a bonus track, and the only thing that made the album worth the price of the purchase. A complete reversal of the themes of the other songs and --- shock! Horror! --- an upbeat, happy song! How did that get in here?
Spoiler for Take my hand:


Now the bad ones, and they're many. Start off with "Don't think of me", with its self-indulgent, wrapped-up-in-itself lyric...
Spoiler for Don't think of me:
Then there's "My lover's gone". I have to say, I'm not surprised.
Spoiler for My lover's gone:

"Honestly OK" is just annoying...
Spoiler for Honestly OK:

"Slide" is just painfully boring, like Sade on downers
Spoiler for Slide:

"Isobel" is dreary as hell
Spoiler for Isobel:

and the almost-title track,"I'm no angel", just brims over with self-pity, as does most of the album.
Spoiler for I'm no angel:


There's no question that after having bought this I had no further interest in listening to anything Dido had to say or sing. It's one thing to be introspective and moody on an album, but this just takes the biscuit. Hell, even the Smiths lightened up from time to time! Just depressing, and not the sort of album you put on to help you cheer up, that's for sure. And what has she to be so pouty about anyway? Didn't she sell millions of copies of this, and didn't it lift her up into the bright lights of international stardom?

Some people are never happy.
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Old 03-21-2013, 12:29 PM   #1732 (permalink)
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Okay, well about a year later than intended, here we finally are, with the first in what will be an occasional series focussing on the giants of the guitar, the ayatollahs of the axe, the supermen of the strat. In this series my intention is to detail the guitarist's life, both personal and in music, and review most if not all of their recorded material, which might explain why there's only the one album by this guy reviewed in my journal up to this. Yep, I was saving it all for this feature. The level of depth and coverage I want to go into here will more than likely, almost certainly in fact, require that this section be split up into sections, which I will post over a number of days/weeks, depending on how much I get done.

So, drum roll please --- well, guitar solo would probably be more appropriate --- and let's get going on the first ever edition of



Rory Gallagher

Name: William Rory Gallagher (1948-1995)
Birthplace: Ballyshannon, Co, Donegal, Ireland
Born: March 2 1948
Died: June 14 1995
Cause of death: Complications brought on after he contracted a virus while waiting for a liver transplant. Also overprescription of antidepressants contributed to his ailing health.
First band: Fontana/The Impact
First solo attempt: 1970
Influences: Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Lonnie Donegan, Woodie Guthrie, Lead Belly
Albums (Studio): 11
Albums (Live): 5
Compliations/Boxsets: 14
Singles: None
Hits: None
Legacy: Signature Fender Stratocaster, millions of adoring fans and the message that you don't have to compromise your ethics to make it in the world of music. A fresh honesty and a true dedication to the Blues.
A fitting epitaph: "Rory lived and died the Blues" --- Donal Gallagher


The Early Years: 1963-1966
Born into a musical family, both Rory and his brother Donal were musically-inclined, though it would of course turn out to be the older brother who was destined to become a star. His father had played in a ceili (pronounced kay-lee) band -- basically Irish traditional dance music --- and his mother, in addition to being an actor, had a great singing voice. Listening to the radio at night Rory heard the greats of the day --- Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran --- and knew from an early age that he wanted to do what they did for a living. Winning his first talent contest at age twelve on a self-taught acoustic guitar, he used the prize money to buy himself an electric guitar, and later a Fender Stratocaster, which would remain with him, and identified with him, for most of his career.

With the family hardly rich (his father worked for the ESB, the Irish electricity company) and a record-player a luxury far beyond their means, Rory had no choice but to listen to late night radio and occasional programmes on the television to try to hear the music he was beginning to feel a kinship with, and try to hunt down song books so that he could learn the songs he heard. Music was by no means as available or accessible in the 1950s and 1960s as it is today. There was no internet, hardly any computers at all, and only tinny, mono radios called transistors or "trannies" (Now... ) while video recorders were decades away, so if you wanted to see a TV programme you had to make sure you caught it then and there. Programmes, especially music ones, were rarely if ever repeated.

Though his first love, Rory decided he did not want to restrict himself to playing guitar only, and taught himself harmonica, sax, mandolin, bass, banjo and sitar, elements he would later incorporate into his live shows. In Ireland during the sixties there was only one outlet for a musician who wanted to be heard, who wanted to tour with other musicians, and that was the dreaded showbands. Twee, sentimental, cabaret bands who all dressed and sounded alike and played mostly ballrooms and dances, covering the popular hits of the time, this was not Rory's cup of tea but he bore the restrictions it put on his music, just to be out there playing. His exuberant displays on the guitar soon made him a minor legend, and he made a name for himself with Fontana, his first showband which he subtly moulded into more an r&b outfit, angering staid promoters and ballroom owners but speaking to the desperate need in the audience --- particularly the younger ones --- for a new kind of expression and freedom, a break from the boring traditions of their parents.

After guiding the band's sound sufficiently that they really no longer were the same band, Rory changed their name to The Impact, and they had minor success, especially in Spain. When they disbanded Rory continued on with the bassist and drummer and toured Germany. Returning home to Ireland, Rory was impressed and influenced enough by what he saw in cities like Hamburg to decide that his time in showbands was over, and he formed what would essentially become his first "real" or "remembered" band, Taste.
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Old 03-22-2013, 11:05 AM   #1733 (permalink)
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Okay, let's be fair about this. I went to the Batlord's house. I sneaked in while he was headbanging away to Suffocation or some other noisy nonsense. I wired up his super-powered "Inconsiderate Bastard" (TM) Mark VI's to some C4 and slipped his favourite High On Fire album into his CD player. I retreated to a safe distance and watched through my high-powered binoculars. Sure enough after a little while the strains of "Fury whip" burst across the neighbourhood, scaring mean dogs and stopping more than one pacemaker, then almost immediately there was a loud bang and a flash and when the smoke cleared there was nothing but a large crater where his house used to stand.

Ah, but then...

Out of the smoke, coughing and spluttering, a cartoon-like figure emerges, blackened beyond recognition and with his hair spiky from the blast, reeling about and still clutching his favourite headphones, and says "Man! Whatever that **** I smoked was, I want MORE! THAT was ****in BITCHIN!" Then he turns around, sees his house was gone, shrugs and says "**** it, I hated that ****hole anyway! Time to visit Devin Townsend and go on another bitchin' time-travellin' adventure!" And he staggers off into the smoky distance. Jesus! Is the guy the Metal Terminator or what? Guess you really can't kill a True Metalhead!
You should have known that resistance was futile. The Light of True Metal cannot be dimmed by vaginal secretions such as you.

BTW, what's this about not being able to find metal bands to review (I'm assuming by that you mean extreme metal bands)? There are about fifty million and one good bands out there.
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Old 03-22-2013, 02:31 PM   #1734 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by The Batlord View Post
You should have known that resistance was futile. The Light of True Metal cannot be dimmed by vaginal secretions such as you.

BTW, what's this about not being able to find metal bands to review (I'm assuming by that you mean extreme metal bands)? There are about fifty million and one good bands out there.
No what I mean is that in this section I go to "Ecyclopaedia Metallum", go to the "Random band" option and see what I get. So far the only bands who have come up that I can actually get music from have been Sauron and Effrontery, until just now when I got those Nordic chaps. It's all down to chance, and so many of the bands that have come up on random search have been split, unsigned or just simply don't have anything available I can review.

I know, what are the odds? But it keeps happening...
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Old 03-22-2013, 03:49 PM   #1735 (permalink)
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Don't forget Sail Away by Deep Purple from Burn (1974). It's the best track on a strong album, consisting of a duet between David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes, which makes me wish that the latter took all the lead vocals during the post-Gillan/Glover period. I say this despite Coverdale being a reasonable singer. There is a remastered CD of Burn, which has not one, but two versions of this great song. Play it loud!


Deep Purple - Sail Away - YouTube
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Old 03-22-2013, 03:59 PM   #1736 (permalink)
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No what I mean is that in this section I go to "Ecyclopaedia Metallum", go to the "Random band" option and see what I get. So far the only bands who have come up that I can actually get music from have been Sauron and Effrontery, until just now when I got those Nordic chaps. It's all down to chance, and so many of the bands that have come up on random search have been split, unsigned or just simply don't have anything available I can review.

I know, what are the odds? But it keeps happening...
D'oh: why not just ask me, Terrible Lizard (or a variety of other chaps here on MB) for metal recommendations every so often? Especially if you are digging around in extreme metal realms, finding something that might actually appeal to you is like finding hay in a pile of needles.
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Old 03-22-2013, 06:42 PM   #1737 (permalink)
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Time passages --- Al Stewart --- 1978 (RCA)


A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away ... okay, not far away at all. This one, in fact. But a long time ago certainly, I used to do radio DJ work on a small --- very small --- local radio station. One night, while the records spun and I was bored I decided to go look through what was laughingly called a library. This was essentially a motley collection of records that other DJs had brought up to the station and either left behind by mistake, or just couldn't face bringing home with them. It was a few wooden shelves of records from artistes you had never heard of (or would want to), mostly Irish traditional or country with perhaps some "debut" singles from people who would never be let near a recording studio again, some handouts by artistes who mistakenly hoped we'd play them on air (we never did) and the odd decent album. This was of course the aforementioned, and I came across it, knowing of Al Stewart pretty much from his big hit "The year of the cat" and also one or two other songs I'd heard on the radio (though not, ironically, "Song on the radio"!) so I decided to, er, borrow it. It's still in my collection, and now seemed as good a time to actually listen to it as any.

Al Stewart is one of those people you know but don't know. Most of you will know the abovementioned song, although you may not be aware who sings it (it's Al Stewart!) and may have heard the odd other song by him, but you, and I, will be unaware that he was such a pivotal figure in the early pop/rock/folk scene in the fifties and sixties. He's the man who can lay claim, literally, to knowing Yoko before she ever met Lennon, to sharing an apartment with a young man called Paul Simon, and playing the very first Glastonbury Festival in 1970. He has also released sixteen studio and three live albums, and had six of his singles chart over the seventies, two of which hit the top ten, but only one of which made any impact at all this side of the pond, that being the famous "Year of the cat", which barely scraped in at number 31. But chart position is not everything, and that song particularly has proved far more popular and enduring than its paltry chart performance would have you believe.

The title track gets us underway with a nice soft digital piano and some acoustic guitar, gentle percussion and it's the sort of laidback, middle-of-the-road rock that typified much of the seventies. Good driving music I would think. It's one of the hit singles off the album, in fact the one that rose highest in the charts, at least Stateside. A sort of reflective song with an air of quiet resolution about it, it's shot through with some nice sax breaks from Phil Kenzie that unlike many sax players doesn't take over the song but enhances it gently with his playing, through when he wants to break out in a "Year of the cat" moment he certainly can do that with aplomb. Some lovely guitar from Stewart and fine piano from one of three keyboard players used on the album, you can see how this became a hit: it was a real song for the times. Probably wouldn't even get a single airplay these days if it were written today.

Stewart's voice is strong but not overbearing at any time, and I always felt he had a somewhat slightly feminine lilt to his voice, which isn't meant as any sort of criticism, just how he always appeared to me. Big sax break as we near the end of the song and you can see how Stewart was building on the phenomenal success of his big hit single from the previous year, as this song does retain many of the hallmarks of "The year of the cat" without being a copy in any way. Simple gentle piano then starts "Valentina way", but it quickly metamorphoses into an uptempo rocker on the back of electric guitar, sort of Dave Edmunds in structure and feel, the piano getting much more rock-and-roll now. It's interesting to note that, though he had no input into the songwriting that I know of, this is one of the early jobs for Alan Parsons as producer, and this song has a lot of the melody of many of the songs he would go on to oversee with the Alan Parsons Project. Whether he influenced this one or took influences away to his own solo career is not a question I can answer, but there's definitely an echo of "Valentina Way" in later songs to appear on APP albums.

"Life in dark water" is far more ominous, with a big heavy drumbeat and atmospheric guitar, great work behind the skins by Jeff Porcaro, just a year before he would found Toto and go on to fame and fortune. This song is the slowest on the album so far, not a ballad by any means but a real slowburner, dramatic and powerful with a certain feeling of claustrophobia about it. Then halfway through it goes into a bouncy, boppy Beatlesesque rhythm before bringing in some very effective guitar and piano for the middle eighth. I hear echoes of early Dan Fogelberg in here too, and the sonar effect at the end is both clever and chilling, when you realise the subject matter. A more mid-tempo song which to be fair takes a little from the melody of the opener, "A man for all seasons" is a nice little track, with a piano run which ELO would later rob for their hit "Confusion" (Okay, they probably didn't even know about it, but it is very similar) and another interesting lyrical theme, this time Thomas Moore, historical arch-enemy of King Henry VIII, with some rather telling comments on religion along the way. Nice backing vocals and some warbly organ with yet another really inspiring guitar solo from Stewart.

Little country/folk then for "Almost Lucy", a much more uptempo song that just makes you tap your foot, and brings back those memories of Dan Fogelberg to me at any rate if to no-one else. Excellent piece of Spanish guitar, then everything slows down in a very Alan Parsons way --- or I suppose I should be fair and say, a sound that would become Parsons' trademark --- for the stately and grandiose "Palace of Versailles". Nice, measured drumming and some fine work on the keys with Stewart's clear voice rising above it all, it's a retelling of the French Revolution, and the orchestration near the end is again very similar to the sound we would grow used to hearing from the APP. "Timeless skies" has a certain sense of Chris de Burgh about it --- certainly his earlier work, such as "Far beyond these castle walls" and "At the end of a perfect day" --- and some soft accordion from Peter White, then the other big hit from this album is "Song on the radio", which is about as commercial as you can get really for the time.

With a big breakout sax solo starting the song it bops along really nicely, and you can again hear elements of later ELO here; perhaps Jeff Lynne listened to Al Stewart and took some influences from him? It has one of the best hooks which manages to almost qualify the lyric: "You're on my mind/ Like a song on the radio" and which guaranteed it success in the charts, though it only hit outside the top thirty. It has gone on to become one of his best and most-played songs though, and much of this is certainly down to the energetic and flamboyant sax work of Kenzie, in marked contrast to his work on the opener. The song pretty much rides on his sax lines and the piano melody too. Of course, it all comes together under Al Stewart's friendly, gentle and everyman voice, which sells the song like no-one else could. The album ends on one of my favourites of his, which was used by one of the radio stations I used to listen to as their "closedown" song, rather appropriately, as it's called "End of the day".

If the title track was reflective, the song that closes the album is doubly so. Carried on a sparkling guitar line with a real laidback feel, some rippling piano and some flowing Spanish guitar, it's a short song but it doesn't need to be long. It's almost an instrumental, and a real showcase for the guitar work of the man whose name adorns the cover of the album. Just when you think there are going to be no vocals his voice floats in, with just a few lines, all the more effective for their brevity and the song is in fact the perfect ending to the album, the musical representation of the sun sinking slowly in the west, its rays splashing out over the darkening sea, with the promise of its return tomorrow.
TRACKLISTING

1. Time passages
2. Valentina Way
3. Life in dark water
4. A man for all seasons
5. The Palace of Versailles
6. Almost Lucy
7. Timeless skies
8. Song on the radio
9. End of the day

Songwriters like Al Stewart don't come along too often. He's had a pretty big influence on music down the decades, working with people like Jimmy Page, Tori Amos, Rick Wakeman and of course Alan Parsons, and yet few people are even aware of his existence. If it wasn't for "The year of the cat" being a minor hit over here we'd have nothing to mark his presence in the charts at all. And yet that record is played and requested more than most other songs from this era, even today. Timeless classics, you see, don't date and they don't go out of fashion, and even if time does continue in its passage, and we can do nothing to stop it, music like this lives on down the years.

A man for all seasons, indeed.
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Old 03-24-2013, 02:10 PM   #1738 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Big Ears View Post
Don't forget Sail Away by Deep Purple from Burn (1974). It's the best track on a strong album, consisting of a duet between David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes, which makes me wish that the latter took all the lead vocals during the post-Gillan/Glover period. I say this despite Coverdale being a reasonable singer. There is a remastered CD of Burn, which has not one, but two versions of this great song. Play it loud!


Deep Purple - Sail Away - YouTube
Yes, I saw it but as I say I had to have a cutoff point somewhere. Great song.
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Old 03-24-2013, 02:13 PM   #1739 (permalink)
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D'oh: why not just ask me, Terrible Lizard (or a variety of other chaps here on MB) for metal recommendations every so often? Especially if you are digging around in extreme metal realms, finding something that might actually appeal to you is like finding hay in a pile of needles.
Well because the whole "Meat Grinder" section is built around the idea of random search. It's not that I particularly want to find metal bands, it's more what will I find when I go looking? With what's come up in the first four editions it's kind of metamorphosed into an almost comedic lack of good bands and as Blaro says it makes the section even more interesting. It's just amazing how many bands are out there with no claimable music on the net.
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Old 03-25-2013, 01:30 PM   #1740 (permalink)
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Alternating scenes --- Illusive Mind --- 2011 (?)


This band are something of an engima. Very very hard to track down, and even on their own website there is no English version; my Spanish or Portuguese being somewhat rusty (ie virtually non-existent) I've had to make some educated guesses but what I've come up with is this: the band, as such, appears to be the solo project of one guy, Darwin Lubo, who so far as I can make out writes, sings, produces and plays everything here. The music is descibed as "rock progresivo" (anyone?) so I think I'm in about the right area. It looks like this is their/his second album and as far as I can see no label is mentioned, with the entire thing available via his Soundcloud page, which leads me to believe that either the album cover is just some pretty art and there is no hard CD copy, or that he released it independently. I can't obviously verify any of that, as he (let's call the project he, as there is only him involved as far as I can make out) doesn't come up in searches on any of my main metal or prog rock sites. Oh yeah, he's from Venezuela, hence the Iberian tongue. Does he sing in English? Well, the titles are in English, so let's find out, shall we?

"Trapped" gets us underway with a big synthy, dramatic opening and some low choral voices, effects and almost the feel of some sort of ceremony taking place, then big hard guitar pounds in and the tempo kicks right up alongside galloping drums, keyboards sliding into the mix for a few moments before they fade back out and the guitar takes the melody. Oh, then they're back in with a sort of organ sound and then augmented by very proggy arpeggios. Halfway through the song it's fairly clear this is going to be an instrumental. Will it be so all through the album? Time will tell. Good running keys with attendant guitar backing up the main one, then more ramped-up arpeggios and as we head into the last minute the guitar takes over, not so much a solo but definitely an instrument leading the charge. A big powerful end and we're into "Mechanical plague", which starts with a sound like someone plugging a lead into a guitar, then the guitar itself fires off in a marching sort of riff, percussion added to the sound and the guitar soars off into the heavens.

More guitars (presumably multitracked if our man Darwin is the only one in the band) set up a high squealing melody, with some talkbox work and it's obviously another instrumental. Very powerful guitar, almost shades of Iron Maiden in this at times, then that "plugging-in" sound again, leading me to believe this is definitely self-produced, though nothing about "Dream master" sounds in any way amateur. A great slow ballad with some lovely resonant guitar, almost bluesy in ways, some nice keyboard lines layered over the main guitar melody. I think by now as we work through the third instrumental in a row it's pretty clear this album is not going to have any vocals. Well, if it does I'll be surprised. Lovely orchestral-like keyswork halfway through that really adds a sense of drama to the music, the guitars then joining in on the same lines and creating an overall solid soundscape.

We're rocking again with the title track, powerful speedy guitars and some peppy keyboards, a really fine drum solo in the middle that's then added to by a rising organ salvo, bringing the guitars charging back in for the closing minute, while "Intruder part 2" (what happened to part 1? Search me. Maybe it's on the first album) has touches of the ghost of Metallica and some righteous keyboard work, chugging along at a fine pace, taking us into "Tight squeeze", with a sound familiar to old fogeys like me, the rasping click of stylus on vinyl that almost always preceded the music at the beginning of any album. Some odd sounds then the guitar takes it and it's slightly slower and a bit heavier than what has gone before, with some stabbing keyboard chords and later some really nice chiming keys too. But Darwin loves his axe, and it's this that snarls the ending and takes us into another "part 2" that doesn't seem to have a "part 1" that I can see, at least not on this album.

"1983 part 2" is built on a really nice chingling guitar sound with some synthy backdrop and a really nice bassline, another slow one it would seem although I'm kind of wrong there as there are some speedy licks on the keys more towards the end as it speeds up, and the tempo then stays high for "Divide and conquer", a guitarfest on which Darwin shows what he can do with that axe, racking out some great basslines too. Not that the keyboards don't get a look in... "Dr. Dometone" on the other hand pretty much rides on a mad synth line with the guitar banging away looking for attention, but your ears get drawn to the amazing keyboard riffs. The closer is the longest track on the album, almost nine minutes and to write and play a nine-minute instrumental that doesn't get boring is not easy, but on "Out of sight" Darwin has managed it admirably.

It explodes to life with a crashing drum intro and high keyboard arpeggios before the guitar slices in, and the piece just oozes with energy, as if he's saved the best to last. Strangely enough, just before the four-minute mark he racks off a chord on the guitar and brings the whole thing to a close, then a second later pumps it back up on the back of some wibbly keyboards and charging guitar again. Almost as if this were two tracks stitched together, though the sound is pretty much the same, so I suppose it should be seen as a false ending really. Some nice stop/start guitar then the bass takes over with some weird little synth effects before the main guitar comes smashing back in. To be honest, it's over before you realise it's run its course: how many (almost) nine-minute instrumentals can you say that about?

TRACKLISTING

1. Trapped
2. Mechanical plague
3. Dream master
4. Alternating scenes
5. Intruder part 2
6. Tight squeeze
7. 1983 part 2
8. Divide and conquer
9. Dr. Dometone
10. Out of sight

Listening to this music it's incredible to think (provided I understand the bio correctly) that this is the work of just one man. He makes Illusive Mind sound like a full band, and if this is a self-produced effort it's a pretty damn fine one. I must see if I can unearth his first album. If you like instrumental hard rock on the style of Pg. Lost and ASIWYFA, then you could do a lot worse than give a listen to this guy from South America. It's not too big a stretch of the imagination to say that he could find himself up there with the ... er, with those big rockers from ... um ... You know what? He could very well be on the way to being the one to put Venezuela on the rock map.

Note: unfortunately there are zero videos of this guy on YouTube, but here is his Soundcloud page, where you can listen to his albums: https://soundcloud.com/illusive-mind...nd-alternating
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