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3 reviews/ratings
ALLAN HOLDSWORTH - Metal Fatigue Fusion | review permalink
ALLAN HOLDSWORTH - I. O. U. Fusion | review permalink
FRACTALE - Suranne Nu Jazz | review permalink

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Fusion 2 4.50
2 Nu Jazz 1 4.00

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Live album · 2010 · Nu Jazz
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I'll be honest, because I'm an honest fellow; upon being summoned by this group, Fractale, to listen to and review this album, I was not expecting anything special at all and had low hopes (I'm typically the pessimist type). To my great surprise, Suranne turned out to be an absolutely wonderful listen and has started off this new year with a positive note (though this isn't a 2012 recording).

I'm usually not so satisfied with the noisy and super-active post-bop or avant-garde jazz improv artists that are very popular because it only comes off as just that: noisy improvisation. Improvisation obviously works great with jazz, and being able to improvise well says a lot about the musicians, but I mostly have a taste for song-based jazz that sticks to a memorable riff and has tasteful and sparse improvisation as an additive. On Suranne, Fractale play a very memorable, dark, forceful, and somehow very smooth type of jazz that is very reminiscent of the earlier French jazz-rock style of zeuhl, but eshews the imperialistic chanting or operatic vocals and instead focuses on the jazz aspect. Though the tracks themselves are memorable and relatively simple, the tasteful and reserved improvisation is obvious, and the fact that these musicians are able to play in such a reserved style while still proving that their musicianship is impeccable really speaks to me as a listener and shows that these musicians are definitely highly skilled in their craft.

To compare the music on Suranne to other artists or albums, I'd have to say that the music here has a similar tone and infectious grooving tendency as Weidorje's only album albeit less distorted and with more emphasis on horns. There is also a considerable touch of kosmische electronic music that really adds to the overall dark, unearthly mysteriousness of this album. I'm definitely no expert on trumpet, but the tone and overall playing of the trumpets present here almost sound comparable to a much more energetic Mathias Eick, which is a huge compliment. In comparison to other style of jazz: this album sounds like equal parts zeuhl, jazz-fusion, and nu-jazz.

The only problem that I have with this album is that it is too short (just over 27 minutes), but this isn't entirely bad; the short length has me craving more, and I'll be willing to jump instantly at the chance to listen to Fractale's next release. Very well done, very impressive jazz.


Album · 1985 · Fusion
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Metal Fatigue is an album that contains the best guitar-based jazz-fusion that you'll ever hear. Allan Holdsworth has his own voice on the guitar, and he always lets it show up front. As with a few other Holdsworth albums, this album contains occasional vocals, and they always drag the listening experience down a bit for me. However, the musicianship on this album redeems completely. Again, as with his other albums, Holdsworth's phrasing on the guitar is impeccable and far beyond what I've heard countless other jazz guitarists play, except maybe Joe Pass.

This album is the ultimate starter-point for beginning Allan Holdsworth fans. In addition to his unique and easily identifiable jazz tone, there are some rock moments here (Metal Fatigue, Panic Station, In the Mystery) but they are unimportant. What's important here is the improv and overall composition.

The ultimate stand out piece on this incredible album is the 14 minute "The Un-Merry-Go- Round". This track changes textures, moods, and styles throughout its duration. This is undoubtedly the most interesting and dark track on this album, but manages to stay dark while changing from happy to sad, from cold to hot. Notes often drone in and out of complete silence, only to be responded with a few bars of powerful drumming and fantastically executed bass. There is a fantastic drum solo on this track as well.


Album · 1982 · Fusion
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Allan Holdsworth is an amazing guitarist, even though his name seems to be unfamiliar to many outside of the jazz world. Holdsworth's legato style is mostly unparalleled by any other guitarist, and he proves that every time he releases an album, and I.O.U. is one of his best. First of all, this is a jazz-fusion album with vocals. Some of Holdsworth's albums do have vocals, and they're not really great vocals either. Most people I know prefer their jazz-fusion to be wordless. If you're one of those people, then it's okay, because the music here will make you forget about the vocals (they don't play a big part anyway). After hearing anything played by Holdsworth, you immediately gain the ability to spot his playing from a mile away, and that is because his style is so unique to himself. His lightning-fast single-note legato improvisations are basically what this album is all about, and it is great. I usually don't care for guitarists who noodle, like Steve Vai. But this is far better in that the noodling actually sounds very professional, and it sounds like a voice, and it is entirely melodic and memorable.

Another great thing about this album besides the legato solos is his chord phrasings. Everything played here is absolutely beautiful. Allan Holdsworth has always had a talent for phrasing his tunes beautifully, but it really shines on this album. Just listen to "Where is One", the second track on this album, and you'll understand completely. That track in particular stands out as one of the best on the album, in my opinion. The call-and-response effect is perfect, alternating between a call of beautifully phrased chords that fly smoothly with a response of harshly played staccato lower-register notes. Fantastic, and I'd expect nothing less from Mr. Holdsworth.

If you enjoy jazz-fusion at all, then this album is for you. I'd also suggest anything else by Allan Holdsworth as well. You really can't go wrong with his material.

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