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Garsed and Helmerich: Exempt

AAJ Staff By

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First things first. Brett Garsed , contact at: [email protected], and TJ Helmerich are two of the best guitarists on the planet — I’d put them in at least the top 25. Really. If you want awesome legato riffs that are neck-n-neck with Holdsworth or shredding that rivals Van Halen or Satriani — look no further. They can rip it up with the best of them. Helmerich has a strong voice and you will also find him engineering and mixing fine releases like Tribal Tech’s Face First. Garsed gets around a lot too doing guitars with Bobby Rock’s Out of Body and recently on Derek Sheridan’s Planet X.

I first came across this duo when a guitarist friend of mine sent me a live boot recording of these guys doin’ all instrumental fusion. I was 100% blown away. It was like hearin’ Holdsworth tradin’ licks with Connors or McGill. I went right out and grabbed GnH’s Quid Pro Quo, (1992) also on Legato, (a defunct label at present).

On this CD-R recording that Garsed sent, you find more instrumental pieces leaning towards fusion and less towards guitar-rock. GnH are assisted by Bobby Rock on drums and Gary Willis, (T. Tech), on drums. Paul Mirkovich adds keys while Richie Gajate Garcia percusses. The compositions are flowing, interesting, relaxed but full of awesome riffs and great tone and color throughout. My favorite cut was “ . . . and Then a Crow Came Out” which was a funky, edged, syncopated fusion groove, chocked slam full of rollin’ legato and heavy rock punch. You even get to hear little birdies atwittering. These cats can flat out jam! Think Holdsworth’s Metal Fatigue or Connors’ Assembler.

GnH have a little bit of whacked neurons goin’ in that Zappa mindset as evidenced in “Mr. Banancreas”. I love such wild inventiveness that throws convention down the stairs.Think Ron Thal and his Bumblefoot adventures or Satriani doing cartoon soundtracks. “Loch Rannoch” is an excellent, epic-adventure hero theme that should have been used on The Highlander soundtrack alongside Queen’s fine work, say during the credits outro. This is light years better than Eric Johnson’s technically precise, robo-riffin.

As done, a bit too much for my tastes, on Quid Pro Quo, you will find three near-mainstream poppish guitar rock ballads — “Rikki Strange”, “Tomorrow”, and “Carried Away”. Helmerich sings great but I just don’t do that Eagles thing even if the guitars are killer.

(A hidden track is included for your surpise.) Find this rarity for a taste of great guitars and strong song-writing. Strongly recommended. ~ John W. Patterson

Personnel

Garsed, Helmerich, & Donati.

Album information

Title: Exempt | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Legato

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