Sunday, April 16, 2017

Allan Holdsworth (1946-2017)

One of the few, true guitar heroes.

Will never be another like him.

Great loss, irreplaceable.

--Raj Manoharan

Friday, March 24, 2017

Triboluminescence (2017), by Andy Summers

CD Fan Review

Summers got his groove back.

For the longest time, I had held out hope that Andy Summers would create another album similar in vein to his first two solo instrumental efforts, Mysterious Barricades (1988) and The Golden Wire (1989), which feature his compositions and guitar playing at their most transcendental and sublime. Triboluminescence rekindles the spirit of those original records, but on a whole other level, and the result is absolutely delightful.

Expounding upon his explorations of self-sufficient sonic possibilities begun with the 2015 industrial tech whack offering Metal Dog, Summers exceeds that accomplishment, using his guitars and other instruments (and cheating slightly with the collusion of cellist Artyom Manukyan on one track) to create alien and otherworldly sounds that transport you into a wondrous dimension of exhilarating sensory perception.

Standout tunes include the haunting “If Anything,” “Elephant Bird” (classic Andy Summers), "Gigantopithecus" (psychedelic reggae rock), “Ricochet” (bluesy funk), the eerie and enigmatic "Sam and Janet" (with a special cameo by "Metal Dog" from the album of the same name), and “Help from Jupiter” (spacey shades of Barricades and Bewitched). (The latter three tracks are digital/vinyl exclusives.)

Summers described his personal musical direction in the late 1980s and early 1990s as “new fusion.” He calls his unique stylings on Triboluminescence “new exotic.” I myself like to think of it as “new mysterious.”

Without a doubt, Triboluminescence certainly ranks as one of Andy Summers’ best albums (it's my personal favorite), right up there with his Private Music catalog, as well as Synaesthesia and Earth + Sky. It is also solid and demonstrable proof that at age 74, Andy Summers is still very much in his prime – and still very much in the top tier of guitar masters.

--Raj Manoharan

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Chuck Berry (1926-2017)

All hail the Pop of Rock!

And still poppin' and rockin' in peace!

New album out June 17!

--Raj Manoharan

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Logan (2017)

Movie Fan Review

At the very least, this is the best film adaptation of Marvel characters not produced by Marvel Studios. It is hands-down easily one of the best motion pictures of all time.

As graphic and unrelenting as the violence on display is, the writing, directing, and acting – all of which are far superior to the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movies – transcend it.

The Western road-trip structure of the production, as well as its gorgeous location cinematography and organic action scenes, makes it a refreshing change of pace from the typical superhero saga super-soaked in outlandish computer graphic imagery. Also, the inclusion of actual X-Men comic books as props is a brilliant, self-referential touch. Plus, there are a couple of really intense, literally mind-numbing sequences.

Hugh Jackman’s and Patrick Stewart’s career-high performances in this are without peer among superhero movies, and their relationships with each other, newcomer Dafne Keen, and the other actors/characters are compelling and involving. You really root for the good guys, and you truly despise the bad guys.

Keen is a star in the making with her debut in this as the wild, feral, brutal, obstinate, and ultimately endearing Laura. Keen is the best child actor I’ve seen in a long time, if ever.

What our beloved Logan (Jackman) and Professor X (Stewart) go through is sobering and tough to watch, making their climactic payoffs substantive and dramatically and cathartically satisfying. Logan especially undergoes a transformative experience unlike any other superhero character on film before him, giving this movie a depth and soul that no other superhero picture has and thus making it the best in the genre.

The entire film, especially the very end, is a fitting tribute to the most beloved X-Men character both in comics and on screen.

On a tangential note, the Deadpool short preceding Logan is a riot and, although completely different in feel and tone, a great lead-in to the main show.

--Raj Manoharan


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Andy Summers' New Album Due for Release in Late March

Andy Summers' latest album, Triboluminescence, is scheduled to be released in late March (Summers' Web site says March 24; Amazon says March 31).

Continuing in the experimental vein of Summers' last release, 2015's Metal Dog, the new collection again features Summers playing all the instruments in addition to his signature guitars, with the exception of the cello played by Artyom Manukyan on the track “Garden of the Sea.”

Triboluminescence is available for pre-order on Amazon.

--Raj Manoharan