Progression: "Kulju... serves us up with a winner"
By Dave on Wednesday, November 14th 2007 10:11 pm
Today in the mail the Fall 2007 issue of Progression Magazine arrived. John McLaughlin is the cover story and there is an interview with Rick Wakeman. And amongst the many reviews is one on Abstract Expression.
Sound: 3.5 of 4 stars
Composition: 3 of 4 stars
Musicianship: 4 of 4 stars
Performance 3.5 of 4 stars
Overall 14 of 16 stars
Artists who draw inspiration from Rush are on the incline, while the multitudes who plunder the temple of Genesis are (finally) dwindling. This do-it-yourselfer (with a little outside assistance) from Electrum guitarist Dave Kulju falls into the former category, and he serves us up with a winner.
In an interesting way, Abstract Expression is an unrelated near twin to the Speechless disc I spun last quarter. Kulju likes to interject hairier riffs at more frequent junctures ("Pleiades", "Picnic at the Slag Heap") than the Atlanta group, but like Mr. Tonar, eschews flashy soloing in favor of meaningful thematic development. Close analysis reveals "Hieland Road" to posses an architecture unconsciously similar to Rush's YYZ. The 15-minute arches through a widely varying series of moods and 'tudes with pleasingly cohesive symphonic rock structure.
Abstract Expression lies on the cusp of being a phenomenal achievement, as this is practically a one-man show. But Kulju, like most overachieving mega talents, couldn't but help himself by featuring even more involvement from other musicians.
It is very nice to read those kinds of things, but what is really strange is that the 14 star rating puts AE on a theoretical equal footing with Mike Keneally's classic Hat and Tony Levin's latest Stickman which are both reviewed on the same page and also received 14 stars. Lofty company to be compared to.
While I don't fancy myself an "overachieving mega talent" I do heartily agree with John that the album would have been better served if I had featured more guest performances. The only thing getting in the way of that is logistics.
The opening about the Genesis vs Rush camps is a coincidence - two of my favorite records are Genesis Foxtrot and Rush Permanent Waves. Since my main instrument is guitar there is more similarity in my sound to the latter than the former.
Oh and in gear news I recently acquired a Pearce G2R guitar amp and I'm pretty excited about that. A terrific sounding amplifier designed by Dan Pearce. His company went under long ago but the amps still fetch a decent chunk of change on ebay. I'll write more about it later once I've had some more time to get acquainted.
Also after recently watching a documentary on Robert Moog (who was my electronics instructor at UNC-Asheville) I'm really wanting a minimoog voyager!
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