Band: Charles Brown
Band Website: www.cdbaby.com/charlesbrown
Label: Independent Release
Label Website: www.fossilrecords.net
Release Date: 2007
Instrumental albums from rock-oriented guitarists tend to incorporate a lot of shorter songs with a wide range of styles spotlighting the guitaristís abilities in all those styles. And I have to admit that Iíve generally been disappointed in those releases. The playing was great but the compositions never won me over. Thatís why Iím so excited about the new CD I just got from guitarist Charles Brown entitled Journey in a New Land. Not only does this CD showcase his playing in many different styles but itís a concept album with long tracks that allow for some really powerful moments. Brown (guitars, guitar synth) is assisted by Rick Milo (drums, percussion), Matt Bassano (keyboards), Steve Espinosa (piano, bass, violin) and Mr. X (additional drums, percussion). So while this is clearly a guitaristís album, it is a band making it come together.
Journey in a New Land features only 5 tracks with the longest being 18:08. Two others are over the ten minute mark as well. Itís only the last two that are under four-minutes. The longer tracks are sprawling affairs made up of multiple parts, repeated themes and plenty of soloing. Nothing is rushed, each aspect of the composition is allowed to play out, so itís not like weíre rushing from one searing solo to the next, and I really liked that because it gave the compositions character. Aggressive electric guitar opening sections will run their course, opening up to softer acoustic guitar segments; all the while layers of keyboards provide both the atmospherics and symphonic elements. I say keyboards but thatís not always clear because Brown does perform on the Roland guitar synth which can make many of the same sounds, it just comes out sounding different due to the different playing style. Because of this there are times where you may be reminded of early Mastermind, the music can be quite bombastic. Then just as quickly it will turn soft and acoustic. Brown lists as influences artists such as Ritchie Blackmore, Alex Lifeson, Dream Theater and others so it should be no surprise the music can get pretty heavy, but it never becomes prog-metal. Instead itís more a heavy symphonic reminiscent of Japanese bandís like Gerard. There is also a subtle Spanish feel running through the disc, and every so often trumpet sounds make their appearance adding to that sound.
As far as instrumental rock guitar albums goes, this has got be at the top of the list.Charles Brown has surrounded himself with some very competent players and come up with quite masterful CD. Journey in a New Land will satisfy a wide crowd: those who yearn for searing guitar licks, those who enjoy epic styled concept music, and those who appreciate their symphonic prog with a solid guitar presence. I was pleasantly surprised and liked it a lot. Great job!