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(56:04; Art Griffin’s Sound Chaser)
Earlier this year I received a message from Art, asking if I would be interested in reviewing his album. As is usual I affirmed that and said I was quite happy to work from downloads, but he said he wanted to send me the CD. When it arrived I could see why, as this features the artwork of none other than Roger Dean who also provided the logo. It is a digipak and I turned it over and was reading the rear when I realised it stated it was released in 2016 yet I had never heard of it (the new album is due soon). So I opened it up and had a look inside and saw the drummer was Steve Negus, THE Steve Negus who was a founder member of Saga and a member of that band for some 25+ years. Guitarist Kelly Kereliuk also plays with Steve in Negus (as well as being a member of Prismind) while the line-up is completed by electric violinist Victoria Yeh (Concertmaster of the Summerhill Orchestra as well as being in multiple bands and classical groups). As for Art? He only provides bass, keyboards, electric and acoustic guitars. Even before I put this on, I was intrigued as here was a band I had not heard of, with some well-known musicians involved, playing instrumental progressive rock and did I mention the artwork? Of course, the worry when hopes have been raised is, they can be dashed just as quickly, so I was very relieved to discover here is a real gem. A close look at the booklet shows that Ken Baird (Monarch Trail) provides keyboard solos on a few of the numbers, which shows to me that Art knows his own limitations and what he is good at, which in this case has been providing the songs and the opportunities for others to go nuts. I have always though the electric violin to be way too under-utilised in all forms of rock music, as in the hands of a master it provides a perfect foil to the electric guitar and far more in the way of dynamics (just ask Eddie Jobson). To say Yeh is a master is something of an understatement, and one gets the impression she is relishing the opportunity to lock horns with Kereliuk who is a real shredder at heart. I cannot say for certain what is Art’s main instrument, but I am guessing it is bass as he and Negus drive the sound along. For the most part the rhythm section keep themselves in the background, providing the foundation for the rest, and the keyboards rarely take the lead, allowing the two lead melody musicians to do their stuff. It is a wonderfully inventive and flowing album, and I am somewhat surprised to find it only four years after it was released, and there are way too few reviews of this around. One of my mantras is “too much music too little tine”, and I am always struggling to find the time to write all the words which need to be written, but I am so glad this has finally found its was from Canada to Aotearoa as this is one heck of an album, and one I have really enjoyed. For fans of instrumental progressive rock, which is also bringing in elements of Vai, this is wonderful.
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