Wolfgang Schalk comes with a strong reputation. He is certainly a gifted guitarist, with his clean lines, chord structures and often thick timbre. All of this would ostensibly make his new album a treat. However, it falls short, and the prime reason is his unwillingness to go out and seek different directions.
Schalk is content to swim in a relaxed groove all the way. He opens with 'Waltz in Blue (for Hildegard)', which is laid back and daubed in pastel shades. The gentle flow of his guitar makes for an interesting contrast with the piano counterpoint. 'The Intergalactic Relay Race' opens on sweet ministrations form Schalk and then moves in to a medium tempo tilt. The placidity does not stir on the other songs, and it soon becomes a familiar pattern. However, when it comes to 'Styrian Impressions', pianist Dave Kikoski graces the disc with some tastefully intricate playing. And there is a moment when 'Mystify' seems to change things, but the opening when it sits on the edge of funk dissipates soon enough. Yes, this record features technique aplenty, but a little more imagination would have made for more interesting listening.
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