Category: Abstract Expression Reviews
Chroniques à musicwaves.fr
By Dave on Wednesday, September 29th 2010 12:11 am
The French webzine musicwaves.fr has done reviews of both my CDs this month.
...this album rivals the best bands of the moment. Unclassifiable no doubt, but also full of class!
it is simply reassuring that a gifted freelance musician arrives today to produce a sound as rich and exotic, where the technical complexity and originality blend with beauty and finesse
The google translations are more readable than usual.
Oddly enough I find myself shipping more CDs to Europe generally and France specifically than I do domestically this time around. I guess Franco-American relations aren't so bad after all.
Stephanie Sollow: AE is "a fabulous CD"
By Dave on Wednesday, February 6th 2008 9:49 pm
Abstract Expression earns a 5 star review a ProgressiveWorld.net
This is a fabulous CD that features guitar but doesn't overstate its presence. These are fully-fleshed compositions that demonstrate a breadth of styles that flow quite naturally.
Read the whole review here.
In other news I did a little upgrade surgery on my Recording PC which should buy me another year or so before it has to be replaced. A good deal for less than 100 dollars. The really strange part is that it all went very smoothly. I'm also pondering a few other studio upgrades, I think a pair of decent studio monitors are in my future.
Composition goes well on my new piece of music. Right now I'm smoothing out the arrangement on the first 4 major chunks and I have to finish writing a final section. Should get into the tracking process on this by the end of the month. My plan is to again work with Frank Basile to track the drums and I may have found a singer to take care of the brief but important vocal sections as well. With any luck I'll have an EP ready to ship out in May or June.
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!
2 More Reviews
By Dave on Wednesday, October 3rd 2007 1:51 pm
Chris Piccirillo over at Progscape writes:
The songs drip with emotion and the lyrical style of Dave’s playing allows the melodies to get stuck inside your head long after each listen. Other highlights on this album include the wonderfully Genesis-like “Hieland Road” who’s Mellotron intro will have you immediately thinking Foxtrot before you get brought to an entirely different place. The upbeat drums and acoustics really drive this song along and I can absolutely see this being an excellent song to have blasting while driving on a twisting country road in the late summer. Another favorite is the dark, almost atonal blues nightmare “Picnic at the Slag Heap”; it bubbles and grinds, leaving you with an unsettled feeling. The hypnotic “The Water Discipline” closes out the album unexpectedly, almost like a cool-down after the preceding epic work-out “Somnium”.
Dave Kulju’s Abstract Expression is a wonderful contrast in styles yet maintains an overall musical identity making for an extremely enjoyable song package.
And Rickard Kolp takes us song by song though his views on the entire record.
Dave Kulju’s Abstract Expression in many ways is just that. A guitar virtuoso’s painting by notes. Dave is the master mind behind this exquisite rendering and masquerades using electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, drum kit, guitar synthesizer, Keyboards and all programming. We have a number of special guest that include Frank Basile on drums Pleiades, Depth of Autumn, Picnic at the Slag Heap and The Main Attraction, Bryan Powers on drums Internal Combustion and Don’t Mind Me, Joel Mahathy on Theremin and guitar solo on Picnic at the Slag Heap, Doug Upton organ solo on Somnium and Ian Cameron on Violin Pleiades. Let’s grab a brush and give this one a try.
Internal Combustion – Well if we were painting this first tune would have burned our canvas to cinders. It comes out combusting in a spontaneously ignitable aura of mass fusion. It pulsates as if it’s ready to explode but the interludes and orchestral keyboards in the middle temper its power. Its wrestling theme is punctuated by some fine drumming by Bryan Powers.
Don’t Mind Me – The mood that is created in this tune is totally abstract. It starts off with a beautiful guitar chord for the first forty seconds or so and follows with a layered guitar effect that becomes grungy and harsh. The piano then takes the led for a short time before Dave comes in over the top in a mild manner before becoming grungy and harsh all over again. A short guitar solo breaks in at just the right time.
Hieland Road – Strap on the back packs and let’s kick this hike into overdrive. The road features a driving led guitar over an acoustic back drop. We are on the edge looking down until midway when we shift to some fine drum programming along with some nice bass work and a sudden ending.
[note: The drums on Heiland Road were real acoustic drums and not programmed. My Drumming debut actually. -Dave]
Pleides – Frank Basile’s drums open this tune and do a nice job of cascading throughout the entire tune. We have a small piece of violin thrown in by Ian Cameron along with some precisely placed keyboard work by Dave. The layered guitars dual in and out in a meandering way as if to tell you something is about to happen. At the 3:50 mark Dave’s solo kicks it in high gear before Frank Basile’s drums ratchet us back. You can just feel the thought that went into a tune such as this.
Depth of Autumn – Once again the abstract master is in full effect. Here we start with an acoustic ballad that is manipulated into some type of swing that is transposed into a squawking guitar that over lies the melody. Dave’s guitar finally takes to the forefront and caters to this melodic tune.
Read the rest at www.richardkolp.com
AE Review from Gnosis
By Dave on Wednesday, September 12th 2007 11:23 am
Excerpt from AE review in Gnosis by Eddie Lascu
I think Kulju has an evident ability to come up with some great, melodic riffs that will make you hum along by the third time you will play the album. All in all, a very enjoyable album that came from that little place called the soul of the artist.
USA Progressive Music: AE gets 9.6 out of 10
By Dave on Friday, August 24th 2007 2:56 pm
Dave Kulju - Abstract Expression 9.6/10
Track 1 "Internal Combustion" starts with an instant high. Some great guitar playing interspersed with an interesting string section, moves along taking you in but not challenging you too much. A good start.
Track 2 "Don't Mind Me" is a more in-depth affair with a blistering solo and some wonderful guitar textures. Right from the outset Dave shows his skills as both a guitarist and a producer and it's apparent he really knows how to put his point across.
Track 3 "Hieland Road" starts with a lovely bit of Mellotron and then goes into a fantastic staccato riff which glides into a wonderfully sublime bass solo. Great playing throughout ensures that for a non-vocal album Abstract Expression manages to hold your attention.
Track 4 " Pleiades" is a beautiful piece with a classic Prog piano sequence which really takes you away. This is then followed by some great soloing and wonderful riffs. Again this piece is very instant.
Track 5 "Depth of Autumn" starts with a lovely acoustic folk section which is over too quickly for me. A clever chord sequence follows in 3/4 timing which then becomes 3/? timing. Very clever indeed. This is the best place for this track as by now the listener is ready for the more in-depth numbers and this one really captures your imagination.
Review continues below the fold.