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Ken Silverman: Visionaries (2012)

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Ken Silverman: Visionaries How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Multi-string instrumentalist Ken Silverman's first solo outing, Visionaries, is a collection of intimate sketches dedicated to those musicians (and other artists) who have inspired him. Silverman penned these abstract, tonal portraits first, and then named them after these iconic individuals. The result is the ultimate homage to eleven trailblazers.

Each piece has, within it, diverse influences. "Hamza" is a multifaceted oud improvisation that fuses breathtakingly unrestrained musical expression with hypnotic vamps. It also melds distinctly western harmonic structure with fluid North African balladry. "Visionairies," on the other hand, features guitar sounds that flow from cinematic fantasy to somber poetry, and from mellifluous serenading to gently swinging blues.

The record is an amplified reflection of these two centerpiece tunes, as the remaining tracks range from the edgy flamenco guitar of "Sabicus" to the futuristic synthesizer of "For Syd." The former shimmers with Andalusian lyricism and Catalonian passion, as Silverman sways between quiet contemplation and bursts of musical exuberance. The latter brims with electronic whimsy and quasi-baroque melodic framework. It is as if a mad scientist brought J.S. Bach back to life in a darkly futuristic universe.

The album also includes evocation of mysticism on "Iranian," dedicated to Sufi poet Rumi, melancholic streaks on the intensely satisfying Latin-esque "Por Ernesto Cavour," and emotional rawness on "Blind Lemon." The latter was recorded several years before the remainder of the disc on analogue cassette tape. It is a poignant tribute to the great Delta bluesman, but with a modern twist.

With his past releases like Macroscopia (Metier, 2010), Silverman has proven himself adept at collaborative group extemporizations; he has also demonstrated effective leadership skills on the near perfect From Emptiness (Self Produced, 2011). Visionaries is Silverman's very personal statement as soloist and composer, an attestation that he is indeed a consummate musician and an accomplished artist.

Track Listing: For Alfred H.; Pig Snort; Iranian; Sabicus; Por Ernesto Cavour; Visionaries; Hamza; For Syd; Blind Lemon.

Personnel: Ken Silverman: acoustic and electric guitars, oud, synthesizer, charungo.

Record Label: Soundseer


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