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Album Review

Alex Ward: Gated


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Alex Ward: Gated
British multi-instrumentalist Alex Ward plays everything but the kitchen sink on this thrilling solo effort, where he plays guitar, woodwinds, keys, electric bass and uses various software-based mechanisms, including drums. Well-known as a free improviser, the artist fuses electro parts with peppery horns choruses, wily solos on several instruments, jumbling drum patterns and clamorous distortion-laced guitar riffs.

Ward is an avant-garde sound designer via odd metrics, and geometrical configurations that pounce on you and deflect off walls at warp speed. And it doesn't end there. For example, his spiffy grunge-like guitar passages and non-stop momentum—other than some Chamber-induced rest stops—thrash, burn and morph into a horde of diametrical trajectories. Yet on "Buyout," Ward interconnects prog metal licks with corpulent bass lines, thick chord voicings and zig-zagging currents. And the eighteen-minute piece "Hewn" is propelled via his maddening guitar progressions and pounding pulses, resulting in a titanium constructed wall of sound, touched with ominous grooves and climactic ascensions.

On "Stilled" Ward imparts esoteric space grooves and a fluttering clarinet solo, largely executed with extended notes, but he's all over the place on the following track, "Cushioned" where the free form intensity level soars onward. However "The Bradford Factor" may conjure memories of New York City's fabled 'downtown' scene due to renegade death metal motifs and a brain-rattling modus operandi.

This isn't a kick-back and lounge around the stereo type setting. The listener needs to be up for the occasion for what is a stout and riotous sequence of dissecting and interrelated frameworks that took the artist 6-months to complete. And from a holistic perspective, the multilayered soundscapes convey a message that Ward had a visionary gameplan from the onset. Therefore, it's not an album that meanders into a free-form interminable void. Recommended for those, willing to take on a challenge.

Track Listing

Heat Patch; The Celebrated Restriction; Let; Buyout; Hewn; Stilled; Cushioned; Brow; The Bradford Factor; Maybe It’ll Break The Heat.


Alex Ward: multi-instrumentalist.

Additional Instrumentation

Alex Ward: all instruments

Album information

Title: Gated | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Discus Music

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