Sunday, November 12, 2017

Flat Tire: Music for a Non-Existent Movie (2001, 2017), by Allan Holdsworth

Aside from some electric guitar on the lead track and Dave Carpenter playing bass on a couple of cuts, Allan Holdsworth's final studio album produced and released in his lifetime is primarily a synthaxe-only affair, making this his purest and most personal expression of his artistic vision.

The music, recorded at a difficult time for Holdsworth, is contemplative and cinematic, living up to the title and also making it curious that Holdsworth never composed actual motion picture and television soundtracks. Holdsworth would have been a perfect match for Hollywood.

It's also unfortunate for dedicated and loyal fans that Holdsworth didn't make any more solo records for the remaining 16 years of his life. However, he did stay active with live performances at events and festivals and guest appearances and collaborations on other musicians' albums.

Many unappreciative guitar aficionados, including several of Holdsworth's own ardent followers, found Holdsworth's synthaxe musings inaccessible and mystifying. But if you really pay close attention, you will discern not only Holdsworth's brilliance as a composer but also his unparalleled skill and unique talent as a guitarist, even and especially in the context of the synthaxe. And therein lies the reward.

--Raj Manoharan

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