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TRACK LIST: 1. Storm Rising 6:53 2. Ocean of Storms 12:49 3. Hie Folget ein Tantz 1:39 4. On the Wings of Lightning 12:13 5. Avalanche Warning 8:26 6. Rain of Fire 4:56 7. Mist Rising 2:10 LINEUP: Charles Brown guitars, guitar synth Steve Espinosa bass; keyboards Matt Bassano keyboards Dave X drums
Prolusion. Composer and guitarist Charles BROWN is based in Denver, Colorado, USA, and for the last decade or so he's been a prolific solo artist. "Storm Rising" was released in 2011, and as far as I know this is his eighth solo production to date.
Analysis. Cover art is an interesting topic for fans of music. Not a facet covered extensively by the progressor website admittedly, as we tend to focus on the musical contents rather than the packaging in our coverage, but the topic itself remains interesting. Many an album has been purchased due to good quality artwork, and Charles Brown caters for that part quite nicely with his productions. Colorful images inspiring thoughts of science fiction and fantasy appear to be a common feature on his productions, and those sifting through the CD shelves of the few remaining music resellers will most likely have stopped to inspect his productions fairly often. Especially as the artwork, courtesy of Jilaen Sherwood, tends to shy away from the most common clich?s, opting for images inspiring dreams and reflections instead, which fits the musical contents quite nicely, generally speaking, as "Storm Rising" is an album filled with material that is made for daydreaming, reflections and inner journeys. Apart from two short pieces, the compositions are all fairly similar in approach and execution. We're provided with gentle themes, mostly synth-dominated, sporting harmonic textures of a distinct ambient approach and expression, frequently with smooth, elegant soloing by the tangents, occasionally supplemented with dampened, melodic guitar soloing of a similar quality, time and again with a dampened bass motif as a contrasting feature. Subtly more refined moods are constructed around acoustic guitar motifs with dampened rhythms and a gentle symphonic backdrop, the guitar dominating those proceedings but with occasional synth flourishes flavoring the proceedings in an effective manner. And the last piece of the musical triptych is made out by dark toned, distorted guitar riff constructions, mostly providing a firm and solid foundation for guitar soloing of a more energetic manner, with some occasional shredding finding their rightful place in these surroundings. By and large I find this latter aspect of the compositions the least interesting, mostly due to the sheer contrast with the gentler movements, but also because these metal-oriented parts come across as less refined in character. Whereas the dream-laden and careful passages frequently bring forth associations to art rock in approach if not in style, the harder hitting ones are much closer to heavy metal, and a variety of it rather more simplistic in nature at that, which results in compositions with many fine and beautiful moments, but not to the extent that they manage to really impress. A pleasant production and one that will be dearly loved by the right listener too, I'd guess, but not an album that will make a grand impression on a larger scale audience.
Conclusion. Dream-laden music incorporating gentle ambient moods, effective acoustic themes and a harder hitting, early 80's inspired variety of heavy metal into elongated compositions is what Charles Brown and his fellow musicians provide on "Storm Rising", with a couple of shorter mood pieces attached for good measure. If you tend to enjoy instrumental music in general and feel at home with the stylistic expressions described you will most likely enjoy this CD too, as long as you don't expect to find material of a highly advanced or sophisticated nature.
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