Sunday, June 26, 2011

CD Review – Angels of the Sun, by Fred Thrane

The debut album by former classical guitar professor Fred Thrane (pronounced Trana) belies any perceived notion of stuffiness that might be associated with academe and is instead a sonically rich, cosmic affair.

Backed by Dennis Murphy’s subtle but dynamic bass lines and Jim Norris’s exotic percussion, Thrane unleashes a spectrum of ethereal sounds from his nylon- and steel-string guitars, the signal output of which is processed heavily with lots of chorus, reverb, echo, and delay. The result is a sound that is very much in keeping with the interstellar artwork on the simple but elegant CD digipak. In fact, Thrane’s tones are so luminescent and otherworldly that the music could truly be called space jazz.

Thrane does showcase his more Earthbound classical and flamenco flourishes on the traditional-style tracks “Fandango in Four” and “Farruca,” which also have a bit of a Middle Eastern flavor to them. However, it’s the overall spacey sound of the rest of the album, especially the New Age reverie of “Dawndancer” and the jazz fusion exploration of “Moraga Raga,” that really sets Thrane’s compositions and performances apart from the pack.

Thrane’s masterful command of his instrument and his bold audacity in defying the conventional expectations of traditional nylon-string guitar make this a musical odyssey worth embarking upon.

--Raj Manoharan

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