JONAS HELLBORG — Octave of the Holy Innocents (review)

JONAS HELLBORG — Octave of the Holy Innocents album cover Album · 1993 · Eclectic Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
I discovered this album browsing for Buckethead stuff. I discovered Buckethead through Colonel Claypool's (Les) Bucket of Bernie Brains. Actually turned out I had already had some Buckethead in my collection - Bill Laswell's Divination, Ambient Dub Volume One, for some time. By the way, Buckethead is overdue for his own entry on this site. His solo work ranges from progressive metal, that will give any other metal artist here a run for their money, and extremely mellow stuff, too. Have just barely scratched the surface of Hellborg's albums with this one. Of course Shrieve, I knew from Santana's first lineup and Automatic Man. This is a phenomenon I like to call the progressive rock web. Just about every progressive artist is linked to another in some way. Maybe one day when I have a lot of free time on my hands I'll map it out with MS Access.

So I ordered this one not knowing what to expect on the basis of my familiarity with Buckethead and Michael Shrieve. There's really nothing in the progressive rock world that I can compare it to, which is one of the things that makes it a masterpiece. Beyond that, there's stellar compositions and awesome musicianship. Acoustic instruments pushed to their boundaries.

The opener, Rana and Fara is an over 15 minute piece that takes you on a musical journey with mellow parts and very intense parts. It's almost hard to believe that this stuff is being created on just acoustical bass, guitar. and drums. There are some occasional vocal bits that aren't credited that kind of medieval/gregorian chant sounding which give the track a rather spooky feeling.

Death That Sleeps In Them, after the intense highs and mellow lows of the previous track, this one kicks off in high gear. More of those chant like vocals, though they do take back stage to the bass, guitar, and drum. The guitar work here has a heavy Middle Eastern sound to it.

The Past Is A Different Country, I Don't Live There Anymore, reminds me of the quieter pieces on Mahavishnu Orchestra's Inner Mounting Flame. Sorrowful, melancholy music. Hellborg does some stuff with the bow on the acoustic bass that sound flue like. You'll hear stuff and think, hey that's violin, But no, it's Hellborg on bass with a bow again.

Child King starts off high energy yet subtle. I think they had Tutankhamun in mind for this one.

Kildogo also kicks off in high gear, those Gregorian chant vocalizations make another appearance here and there in this piece.

If you don't want to open a can of worms that will lead you to a bunch of music you don't have, but you must get, avoid this one like the plague.
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