Category: Abstract Expression Reviews
Music in Belgium Review
By Dave on Monday, August 20th 2007 9:06 pm
With the listening of this album, one feels well all the influences comparable by Kulju that it is when it is with the guitar or the keyboards. For example, it is well Mike Oldfield which perspires of the piece "Hieland Road". With the wire of the titles, the jazz-rock'n'roll and an even little fusion mix with the tone progressive. That brings a great richness to the nine titles proposed which represent a advance of several years of compositions.
On "Depth of Autumn", after a beginning very Oldfield, it passes by a Marillion environment all that without never taking the step on its compositions which prove of very good quality. The artist has really a gift for musical construction and it takes a great care to arrangements.
The most interesting beach and also most elaborate is without any doubt this "Somnium". The colors alternate passer by of Zappa with Rush while crossing Yes, King Crimson, Genesis and even Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream at one time. It offers really the complete panel of all qualities of the artist.
In fact the only handicap of this album is to be instrumental. If you can pass above that then you will make a beautiful discovery.
Music in Belgium is actually a general music site (you can read about The Stones, Springsteen and Marilyn Manson there in addition to bands like Porcupine Tree or the Flower Kings). I believe that is my first review from a publication outside the more narrow niche I usually live in.
Jazzis: "intelligent and emotional"
By Dave on Monday, July 16th 2007 7:37 pm
Adam over at Jazzis writes:
DAVE KULJU ~ ABSTRACT EXPRESSION
1st album by US guitarist Dave Kulju, who is a member of the Prog ensemble Electrum. Recorded over a period of two years (with some music written even before the actual recording), it presents a portrait of a sensible artist, who shares with us his intellectual and emotional travels in search of his musical identity. Kulju plays almost all the instruments involved in the recording, using a few guest musicians to spice the wonderful musical dish here and there.
The album’s title fits the musical contents perfectly – although mostly in the vein of instrumental Prog, it includes many different moods and influences, such as contemporary classical music and Fusion. The music is both intelligent and emotional, flowing smoothly from one theme to the next, merging perfectly the electric and acoustic instruments. The lead guitar is not trying to show off or dazzle, but simply plays the lead parts in perfect harmony with the other instruments.
It’s quite evident that Kulju wished to present a total musical portrait of himself as a composer and player, rather than enter a pissing contest with others. The longest track on the album, called “Somnium”, (which lasts for over 15 minutes) is quite brilliant and my favorite tune, but all the music is truly excellent. Somehow the mood of the album reminds me of Scandinavian Prog, perhaps a bit of Anekdoten, but that’s just my association. This album will probably (and sadly) be heard by a very limited number of people, but if you’re up to an intellectual challenge please don’t miss it. The beautifully designed packaging will be a bonus. Kudos Dave!
DPRP: "instrumental prog at its very best"
By Dave on Saturday, July 14th 2007 10:08 pm
DPRP's Geoff Feakes in his review of Abstract Expression writes.
From the end results it’s obvious that the multi talented Dave Kulju has spent many hours labouring in his basement studio to produce this album. Each track has been meticulously constructed which a rich layering of instrumentation that’s often complex but always highly melodic. This is instrumental prog at its very best from a musician who clearly has a feel for the genre. Vocals are not a requirement here; Kulju lets his guitar do all the singing. I look forward to his next release either solo or with Electrum even if it does take another five years.
Geoff writes a very detailed review commenting on each of the tracks. You can read the whole thing here.
[note: Geoff sites creative differences in Electrum as a reason for the long layoff between albums. This is somewhat overstated - mostly we just have a problem finding time to work on a record together.]
"AE is a wonderful instrumental record that never bores"
By Dave on Tuesday, July 10th 2007 11:30 pm
Rick over at Aural Moon was kind enough to pen the following review of Abstract Expression. And if that wasn't enough he also intends to feature the album in its entirety on his show "The Rickter Scale" next week (details here once I have them).
Here's a review of "Abstract Expression", a new CD from Dave Kulju. I picked this up without knowing anything about it being released. I have the Electrum "Standard Deviation" CD, and find that fairly interesting. That's Dave with a couple of bandmates from 2002. It's kind of fusion, but a bit more experimental.
Having a bit of predjudice about what I was expecting, I was thrown off. AE is a wonderful instrumental record that never bores. Dave brings some great ideas and mixes them with some unusual patterns that makes a winning combination.
The CD opens with "Internal Combustion", which is representative of the great fusion discs. It has a bouncy, happy driving feel like a Frank Gambale piece. However, most of the instruments are Dave (except for Bryan Powers on drums, this tune and next) - that gives it more of a song structure instead of a wankfest. The use of keys in the bridges is a great touch. Some soloing throughout, but not overbearing. A great opener.
"Don't Mind Me" is a song that takes you back a few years in its style. A nice, easy start with lots of full chords and piano (I'm a sucker for piano). The connections between verses are very post-Counterparts Rush, with the bounce on the bass and the full guitar. About the three-minute mark Dave throws in a ass-kicking solo, just when you get comfortable. There's a lot of this surprise on AE, some unusual patterns. I find this almost a necessity on an instrumental record to keep the interest throughout. The Rush-guitar reappears to finish off the song.
"Hieland Road" trades off on alternately complex and simple verses. It appears from the liner notes that this is a one-man song. The midsection has a little "YYZ" action...you'll understand when you hear it. After that another sweet lead, one of the best I've heard here. Supported beautifully by the drumming and the acoustic guitar. Another winner of a song.
Read the rest below the fold....
ZNR: "Abstract Expression" is a powerhouse!
By Dave on Tuesday, June 26th 2007 11:23 pm
Fantastic solo album from Electrum guitarist Kulju. Continuing in the "power trio" vein of his group but leaning far more towards the fusion side of things, "Abstract Expression" is a powerhouse!
The guitar playing is second to none & the recording is extremely tight and crisp for an independent release.
On the distribution front along with ZNR; Of Sound Mind, Jazzis, Synphonic, Fossil Records, and Apple ITunes are on board (though AE is not yet live on their on-line stores).
The thing about exchanging emails with all these prog distributors is that I find myself buying more CDs lately. I end up buying more CDs from a distributor than I make on the sale.
However I've discovered this really interesting band called Amarok. I picked up their latest CD "Quentadharkën" at Kinesis a couple weeks back and I think it has a very unique and enjoyable sound - a distinctive mix of world music, fusion, and classic prog. And I finally picked up Mostly Autumn's "Passengers" which I've been meaning to get for years. Also good stuff.
Abstract Expression - "quite an enjoyable discovery"
By Dave on Saturday, June 9th 2007 10:39 pm
Review in ProGGnosis
MJBrady over at ProGGnosis has published his thoughts on Abstract Expression. Here are some highlights.
Abstract Expression, a fitting title, is where Kulju demonstrates his writing talents, as well as his multi-instrumental skills.
Each song is carefully constructed allowing many changes and swings in tempo, as well as mood. So no monotony to stifle the listening experience.
This is most definitely the most mature and professional sound recording I have heard from the Electrum camp to date, and have found the cd to be quite an enjoyable discovery.
Brady makes several flattering observations about the album and I'm very gratified by his positive remarks. However, if you read the full review, he makes one understandable assumption that actually is not at all true. I am not the primary composer for Electrum nor do I dictate the musical direction of the band (and that direction with my work inside or outside of Electrum has never been to try to emulate the sound of any other specific artist).
In any event I don't deserve the lion's share of the
blame er... credit for Electrum's music.
Review from artrock.se
I don't speak Swedish and the online translation sites don't seem to offer much illumination to what Conny over at artrock.se thinks...but going by the sheer number of oomlots it looks good to me.
Here is an excerpt.
Albumets klara höjdare är ändå längsta skapelsen ”Somnium” på dryga 15 minuter. Ett progressivt stycke som innehar allt man kan önska sig inom genren. Herr Kulju imponerar med sitt låtskrivande som framhäver melodin snarare en det tekniska kunnandet. En mer än godkänd debut och som vanligt med instrumentala album skulle säkerligen även denna nå högre höjder med några vokala insatser.
An online translation site yeilded the following...
The album's clear bigwigs are nevertheless the longest creation” Somnium” on just over 15 minutes. A progressive paragraph that holds all man can to desire itself within the genre. Mr. Kulju impresses with your tune type that highlights the melody the a nearer the technical know-how. A more even validated debut and as common with instrumentala albums willed doubtless also this reach higher heights with some vokala initiatives.
Regarding the last sentence I'm not sure if that means I should sing, or drink vodka...maybe both.