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The Friday Morning Listen

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First posted on Mark Is Cranky:

Nothing like a little adrenaline-charged, twisty guitar to make the drive to work more exciting (as if the patches of black ice here & there weren’t enough.)

Adrien Belew’s latest solo material will be released in three separate installments throughout 2005. Yummy, it is. There are plenty of great guitar players out there, but there aren’t a whole lot who can combine their chops and piles of musical creativity. The thing about Belew is that you can hear his entire musical history in the compositions.

Side One brings tasty bits of pop, rock, funk, art rock and experimental music. Hey, why not?! Adrian has played with a crazy-great cast of musical characters from Frank Zappa to The Talking Heads to King Crimson to Laurie Anderson (one of the few times I’ve seen somebody play the guitar with a spatula.)

While the songs tend to lean toward a more Crimson-esque sound than, say, Belew’s more pop side (like The Bears or his own Mr. Music Head), there are jumpin’ tunes that made me bop around in the car seat. Despite the presence of Les Claypool and Tool’s Danny Carey on the opening “Ampersand”, the song is a rock/pop gem that reminded me of an updated Batman theme. The tune does devolve into some serious noisemaking at the close before the segue into the funkified “Writing On The Wall” (second of three tunes with those heavyweight guests)….making me wonder if Tool fans are left satisfied with this record’s sound. The final ‘trio track’ is “Matchless Man”, with Carey switching over to tablas. With Claypool’s rubbery bass, the tune sounds like an up date of Three Of A Perfect Pair-era Crimson.

You can just tell that Belew had a lot of fun recording this one. The skronky goodness ooozes outa every track. It would have been interesting to see how Belew interacted with Carey and Claypool during the recording process. There was some obvious musical chemistry there. It’s always fascinating to see that kinda stuff in action. I was lucky enough to attend a ProjeKt Two concert several years ago with Trey Gunn on ‘touch guitar’, Robert Fripp on guitar and Belew on electronic drums. While the personalities could not have been more different (Fripp looking like he’d rather be at home reading some esoteric book, Belew sporting an enormous grin while shooting out crazy sound effects), it was pretty obvious that musically they were of one mind. Some of that was definitely going on here, though I suspect that Carey and Claypool are slightly more, uhmmm, relaxed fellows.

Cripes, I think I’m too cranked up to get any work done now!

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About Mark Saleski

  • Sounds great! Thanks for your rich description and contagious enthusiasm. Watch out for that SUV!