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Allan Holdsworth: Hard Hat Area

Glenn Astarita By

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Track review of "Low Levels, High Stakes"

Allan Holdsworth is one of the most heralded guitarists of modern times, namely among the progressive rock and jazz elite. Vastly influential and maintaining an active touring schedule, the artist's craft is often imitated yet never duplicated. Originally released in 1993, Hard Hat Area looms as one of the guitarist's premier solo outings.

Holdsworth demands the utmost from his drummers. Here, Gary Husband—a legend in his own right—tenders the polyrhythmic vehicle on the blithe, yet torridly gravitating "Low Levels, High Stakes." Here, the guitarist's melodically resonating legato lines bespeak joy, lament, and ominous events as the band commences with surging intensity, abetted by bassist Skuli Sverrisson's recoiling bass parts. Husband peppers, prods, and goes for the gusto as the band ascends towards a towering zenith, shaded by keyboardist Steve Hunt's supply melodic synth lines. Naturally, Holdsworth tears it up during the bridge atop the drummer's crackling tom rolls and vicious cymbals hits, but finalizes via the opening harmonic interval executed by Hunt.

The digital sanitation and remastering effort activates a more dynamic soundstage. And while Holdsworth's storied legacy contains innumerable shining moments, pieces such as "Low Levels, High Stakes" and other tracks on Hard Hat Area supply the bracing refresh of a minor classic.

Track Listing:

Personnel: Allan Holdsworth: guitar, SynthAxe; Steve Hunt: keyboards; Skuli Sverrisson: bass guitar; Gary Husband: drums.

Title: Hard Hat Area | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Moonjune Records

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