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Allan Holdsworth

Sand

Review by Gary Hill

You know, I always tend to lump fusion into progressive rock. Why? Well, unless it’s almost pure jazz (and then it’s not really fusion) there are pretty much equal (or close to it) portions of jazz and rock in the mix. Doesn’t that really make it progressive rock? Well, even if it I didn’t normally do that anyway, this disc would make it in based on all the great prog that Allan Holdsworth has been involved with, UK being the most notable example. This disc is a good one, although I have to admit that it doesn’t live up to what this guy does live. I saw him once and it was one of the most amazing performances I’ve ever seen. Still, this is a great album for those who enjoy instrumental fusion.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Sand
Roughly the first minute of this is an atmospheric sort of mellow jam. They power out into some smoking fusion from there, though. It’s a cool piece that runs through some intriguing changes and serves as a great introduction to the disc.
Distance vs. Desire

This starts in similar fashion as the last cut. As opposed to the way that track progressed, though, this one never really leaves the mellow motif. Instead lines of melody play along this musical route in a satisfying, if a bit lackluster, manner.

Pud Wud

Here we get another smoking fusion excursion. It’s got a lot more pure progressive rock than some of the other material here. It also has some of the most impressive and pronounced bass work of the album. Of course, there is killer guitar work on this, too and some exceptionally tasty keyboard showings. I’d have to put this on as one of the best cuts here. It turns quite incendiary at times.

Clown

This perhaps comes closer to Holdsworth’s work in UK than anything else on the disc. Don’t get me wrong, the focus is still on fusion more than pure progressive rock, but it really does rock out. The tones remind me a bit of UK, too. This is another highlight of the disc. This one is more dramatic than a lot of the other stuff here, as well.

The 4.15 Bradford Executive

Holdsworth and company give us a tuned percussion type sound on this track. That sort of musical motif holds the first two plus minutes of this. Holdsworth brings a more pure fusion sound with a scorching guitar outing after that. After moving through a number of changes in this harder rocking sound they bring it back to the tuned percussion elements to end.

Mac Man

Drums start the festivities. This leads to a rather playful more pure progressive rock jam. It is reworked and recreated here and there as the jam carries forward. This is quite a cool one. Holdsworth really shows off on this one and it’s a great choice to close the disc.

 
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