|Jesus Is the Light of the World / Bruce Kerr||Bruce Kerr||6:52|
|JTL / Bruce Kerr||Bruce Kerr||6:53|
It only took guitarist Chris Poland a full decade to follow up his 1990 solo debut, Return to Metalopolis, with the arrival of 2000's Chasing the Sun. While the album contains quite a few traces of Poland's metal past (after all, he was the guitar player in Megadeth on such classic albums as 1985's Killing Is My Business...and Business Is Good! and 1986's Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?), Chasing the Sun turns out to be a mixed bag of tricks. Picture one of Joe Satriani or Steve Vai's early instrumental solo albums with a focus on jazzier sounds, and you're not far off from Chasing the Sun. Poland's fusion leanings shouldn't come as a surprise, though, as he's been vocal for years about how he was a jazzhead before joining forces with Dave Mustaine and company during the early '80s.
Right from the beginning, you know you're not in for your standard straight-ahead six-string shredfest, as the album-opening title title track takes an abrupt detour into trippy psychedelia. You'll also find funk sounds ("Hip Hop Karma"), fusion ("Robo Stomp"), King Crimson-like weirdness ("Straight Jacket"), and excursions into melodic territory ("Salvador"). Fans of early Megadeth expecting bone-crunching thrash metal may be let down, but for metalheads willing to open their minds a bit stylistically, Chasing the Sun will be a pleasant surprise -- and further proof that Chris Poland is one of hard rock's most underrated guitarists.
Released to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Notorious B.I.G.'s death, Greatest Hits places the two "collaborate with a dead legend" albums -- 1999's Born Again and 2005's Duets: The Final Chapter -- on equal ground with Ready to Die and Life After Death, the two landmark albums Biggie released while he was on the planet. Anthologizing one of the most compelling figures in hip-hop history seems like a right thing to do. Basing such a release around four albums that are greatly divided between essential and inessential, however, amounts to something of a mess. Two obscurities are used where it would've made much more sense to select "Mo Money, Mo Problems" and "Going Back to Cali," two of the biggest hits not included on this disc, and it's really off-balance to include three tracks from Born Again when only one more is pulled directly from Ready to Die. Longtime fans need not go near this; the same goes for beginners, who should reach for Ready to Die.
This impressive, moody release from the nearly 20-year-old group Legendary Pink Dots starts assertively.
"Dissonance" earns its title from an over-modulated crunch of a rhythm married to a reverberated Western acoustic guitar rhythm. Over this, vocalist Edward Ka-Spel (now the Prophet Qa'Sepel) intones a surreal tale of incarceration for the criminal that does not harmonize with society. The harsh crunch continues on into an instrumental track, "Jasz," and its glimpses of shards broken from the sounds of piano and saxophone. Before pivoting into mostly more ambient and reflective pieces Legendary Pink Dots is known for, you are treated to the strongest track of this collection.
"As Long As It's Purple and Green" is a telling and lucid exploration of a psychotic's inner workings more recited (with a snarl) than sung over a breakbeat and loops similar to those in "Jasz." Again, the self-defined individual finds himself instantly cast out and confined from society at large. The ending is, of course, dissonant. Thus passing the storm, nine selections of Legendary meditation mixed with some upbeat numbers like more breakbeat and horn in "Zoo" and the heavy metal guitar in "Is It Something I Said?" follow. Of these, "Ghost" begins in the tranquility of an electric piano melody to breed the sanguine looped chant "blood on the door/blood on the stairs..." "A Sunset for a Swan" is perhaps the most quirky, sounding as it does like a New Orleans street band singing Syd Barrett poetry with electronica/carnival production.
In Bhakta's universe, Indian instrumentation and Sanskrit devotional chanting live peaceably amidst synthesizers and lounge sensibilities.
He subtly meshes the electronic with the organic, the spiritual with the sensual, the crunchy with the smooth.On the opening track of his debut album, carnatic violin and bamboo flute wrestle, spar, and dance for two solid minutes, until an impassioned, improvised vocal floats into the mix, carried away by subtle percussion and hypnotic bass. Appositely titled "Third Eye," it's a wakeup call to the spirit. The title track, a three-part suite, starts off as a tasty chill-out number for vocals and percussion, then bursts into a blazing techno inferno; the final third deftly fuses the first two, resulting in a swirling Sufi dance. "Khidr," another three-parter, is a meditative mood piece that changes briefly into a dance piece, and then back to atmospheric overtone chanting and soothing synth tones.
Amidst all the techno-trance elements, the sincerely devotional quality of the vocals (by Bhakta and other guest artists) makes this a continually compelling and very human record.