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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Art Griffin's Sound Chaser - Visions from the Present

Canada has been for me one of my favorite places I’ve always wish to go to. And the bands from that area whether it’s the sounds of Rush, Klaatu, Morse Code, Max Webster, The Musical Box (which I had the great pleasure of seeing them six years ago for their Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour at the House of Blues), Maneige, and FM to name a few. It’s not just me loving these bands, but showing my support and seeing where the next direction will take the genre into.

In one of the projects that are taking those directions is Art Griffin’s Sound Chaser. Hailing from the Blue Mountains in Ontario, which is a town located at the southwestern area in Grey County and where the Beaver River flows into the rocky shores of Nottawasaga Bay by passing over the two dams by reaching its mouth. But it’s also a ski resort including the private Craigleith Ski Club.

But I’m off-topic. When this landed on my lap a few week ago, I didn’t know what to think of it. So I put the album on my portable CD player and for me, it’s not just a great album, but a very interesting release that was unleashed last year on the Velvet Orb label. It considers Art Griffin who is a multi-instrumentalist and composer, lead guitarist Kelly Kereliuk, electric violinist Victoria Yeh, and drummer/mixer Steve Negus of SAGA and Chris DeBurgh.

With a brilliant artwork of the album cover done by Roger Dean who’s done the Yes artwork, Osibisa, the Vertigo swirling logo, and White Willlow’s Future Hopes, he shows no sign of stopping. But let’s straight to the instrumental adventures with a few highlights on here. The alarm goes off on Nomadic Traveller as it delves into an electronic ‘80s voyage essence of the Trip-Hop groove as Art’s bass sets the tempo as the Wurlitzer goes into a wah-wah mode with a floydian-sque feel.

Red Sky at Night features mid-chomping rhythm sections between Art, Victoria, Kelly, and Steve. Ken Baird’s Rhodes takes you into driving across the highway with the fusion-sque beats while crossing between Yes’ Time and a Word-era and Rush’s Moving Pictures-era. It’s a combinational crossover, but the vibes between early ‘70s and ‘80s vibe works interestingly well.

Ascension pays its nod to 10cc’s The Original Soundtrack. Victoria’s beautiful violin work helps to say farewell either to a loved one or a friend as it sends warmth and hope to the stars. Near the mid-climax it has this ambient/atmospheric finale, but it goes back to the end by fading out into the sunset. Supersuit is a dynamic and heavy electro-rock thanks to the drum programming on here.

Both Art and Victoria are doing a dualistic melody between each other as if they are heading towards the solar system with a climatic ending whilst the 10-minute and 31-second epic, Happy Place which is a four-part composition, brings Kelly to the forefront. He takes the listener to his virtuosic improvisations channeling Steve Vai’s presence by going back and forth on the frets as Art gives him carte blanche to see him getting ready to fly with amazement.

Art has really brought a lot of ideas and hopes into his music. Now while I’m not crazy about the album, Visions from the Present, it has some brainstorming moments that just made me realize what he and his team will do next for the years and years to come. 

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