415

Riptyde: Sonic Undertow

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Sonic Undertow is the culmination of nearly ten years of occasional studio finagling by multi-instrumentalist Chris Hoard, also one half of the team that runs the fledgling Alternity Records, which made its mark last year with its first release, Then! , an archival live release from '90 by guitar phenom Allan Holdsworth. Upon reading the liner notes, the concept of blending progressive rock with a certain hip hop sensibility held a potential for certain disaster. Surprisingly though, Sonic Undertow manages to fuse these seemingly disparate styles successfully into something that blends a sense of history with something completely modern.

Hoard's influences range as wide as Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Steely Dan, with a portion of "Chasing Tsunamis" even re-interpreting a theme from the title track of Gentle Giant's classic, Three Friends. Some of the analogue synthesizer tones clearly hearken back to Keith Emerson, especially on parts of "Chasing Tsunamis" and "Pearls of Intuition." But while Hoard's always longed for the musical exploration in rock that was crafted with such bravado and inspired cross-genre experimentation," he also recognizes the fact that time has moved on, that there are new textures, new rhythms and new harmonies to be explored. "Time to Move On," "Still Movin'" and "Free da Radicals," feature rap lyrics from 4Zone and incorporate a more urban rhythmic approach, still managing to feel completely in context.

As a composer Hoard ranges from the textural beginning of "Prelude: Undertow" to the more lyrical theme of "Time Off in Tannu Tuva," which effectively blends in a sample of Tuvan throat singing. As an instrumentalist Hoard demonstrates a solid sense of construction; his solos are well-conceived and sonically diverse, the result of using various analogue and digital synths, as well as Chapman Stick. But what really ties many of these tracks together is the appearance of Allan Holdsworth, who contributes a number of solos to eight of the thirteen tracks.

That Holdsworth has evolved a completely unique harmonic language over the course of nearly thirty years is without question. His own compositions speak with a singular voice that many attempt to emulate, but never successfully copy. What is always remarkable, however, is to hear Holdsworth in a guest situation, where he is working within a more conventional harmonic framework. Regardless of the context, whether it be the group Soft Works or adding solos to Anders Johansson's jam-based Heavy Machinery , Holdsworth somehow manages to alter the complexion of the artists' compositions, making them fit within his universe. And the same can be said about his contributions to Sonic Undertow ; whenever he solos his personality is indelibly stamped, not just through the notes he plays, but in the way they alter the context of what surrounds them.

Sonic Undertow will be a treat for fans of progressive music who believe that the genre didn't peak and end in the '70s. Clearly there is room for modern cross-genre experimentation in a more advanced context, a concept that Hoard clearly understands.


Track Listing: Prelude: Undertow; Time to Move On; Still Movin'; Time Off in Tanny Tuva; Free da Radicals; Pearls of Intuition; Chasing Tsunamis; Long Voyage Home; Jurassic City; C'mon Ovaya; Forgotten Planet Suite - Part I; Forgotten Planet Suite - Part II; Coda: Undertow

Personnel: Chris Hoard (piano, synths, chapman stick, bass), Amon Freon (e-drums, loops, samples, effects)
With Special Guests: Ekow Asare (voice), 4Zone (rap vocals), Mark Gleed (synths)
Featured Guest Soloist: Allan Holdsworth (electric guitar, piccolo electric guitar)

Title: Sonic Undertow | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Alternity Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Intenso!" CD/LP/Track Review Intenso!
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 7, 2016
Read "Nadje Noordhuis" CD/LP/Track Review Nadje Noordhuis
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: June 18, 2017
Read "Brain//Child" CD/LP/Track Review Brain//Child
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 24, 2016
Read "No Mundo Dos Sons" CD/LP/Track Review No Mundo Dos Sons
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: October 12, 2017
Read "Beatrice" CD/LP/Track Review Beatrice
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 13, 2017
Read "Groovin'" CD/LP/Track Review Groovin'
by Jeff Winbush
Published: November 2, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.