Monday, October 9, 2017

In Parallel (2017), by Dhani Harrison

thenewno2 and Fistful of Mercy member Dhani Harrison finally steps out on his own, and the result is quite – something.

While Dhani’s vocal resemblance to his late father is uncannily surreal, make no mistake – this is not your father’s Harrison (or your Harrison), nor is it Dhani’s father.

What sets Dhani apart from the other Beatles’ children who have followed in their fathers’ musical footsteps is the fact that Dhani is not aping his ancestor, and that is a very good thing. Where the elder Harrison found his voice in folksy, spiritual pop-rock balladry, Dhani is clearly creating his own sonic stamp, and it is a stunning and mesmerizing one at that.

The music is epic and darkly cinematic in scope, ebbing and flowing with pulsating synthesizers, deeply penetrating bass lines, entrancing and hypnotic beats, and flashes of fiery electric guitar. The result is very modern and dynamic, combining elements of George Harrison, Sting, Andy Summers, Moby, Hans Zimmer, and Tom Holkenberg (aka Junkie XL), all filtered through Dhani's vision and artistry.

While Dhani has succeeded in establishing his own unique musical identity, his father’s influence – as well as, to a lesser extent, that of longtime family friend Jeff Lynne – can be heard throughout, most notably on “The Light Under the Door,” “All About Waiting,” and “Admiral of Upside Down.”

The spirit and voice of his father live on through Dhani Harrison as he builds upon a great legacy and takes it in bold, new, and exciting directions.

--Raj Manoharan

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Gizmodrome (2017), by Gizmodrome

If you're a fan of Stewart Copeland's unique and distinctive talents as a drummer, soundtrack composer, and – yes – vocalist, you will absolutely love this album.

The Police, Animal Logic, and Oysterhead percussionist has enlisted the services of some of the best musicians in the business, resulting in one of the most exhilarating and whimsical progressive world rock releases ever.

Adrian Belew is, as usual, a trippy delight with his psychedelic acid rock electric guitar flourishes, as well as backup and occasional vocals. And while I'm not familiar with the work of Mark King, his performances here on bass and backup vocals are on the level. Rounding out the quartet is Vittorio Cosma on keyboards.

There is a palpable African influence on many of the songs, recalling Copeland's Rhythmatist and Leopard Son soundtrack albums. Traces of his Equalizer and other film and television themes can also be heard.

But even as the album features iconic elements of Copeland's and his band members' past work, the music is fresh, visceral, and ear-opening.

This is one supergroup that's really super.

--Raj Manoharan

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Sixteen Men of Tain (2000, 2017), by Allan Holdsworth

After having tackled jazz standards on his previous outing, Allan Holdsworth returns to original compositions, although the feel of his fusion this time is more jazz than rock.

Holdsworth still wields his electric guitar and synthaxe mightily, but with a softer touch thanks to his all-acoustic rhythm section and the presence of trumpet on a couple of tracks.

"The Drums Were Yellow," for example, could easily be "The Drums Were Mellow." But that's not a bad thing, because Holdsworth's more laid-back approach allows him to be more expressive and reflective, which is not to say that he hasn't been either of those things even at his typical high velocities of playing.

This is a nice, pleasant, and easygoing – but no less impressive – album that sets the stage perfectly for the mostly synthaxe session that follows.

--Raj Manoharan