Charles Brown 2017
Instrumental philosophy from American guitarist who knows that a trip is not a means to an end but a meaningful process.
With a string of records to his name, Charles Brown’s oeuvre still is a mysterious entity to many an aficionado who may enjoy his output if it was given a wider exposure. “Explorer Of Life” has the potential to do that, as the artist’s trying to make sense of existence resulted in a strong art-rock creation.
There’s no hiding his influences in terms of style or even tone, the multi-layered “Spectral Voyage”- a tease for a Steve Hackett fan – laying it on the line in an explicit way every, yet such a method perfectly fits the album’s context, where its title track’s ripple and riff shape an engaging soundscape to define fusion within a prog rock framework. It’s a fantasy world depicted in the space between flurries of licks and sensual strum, spiced up with occasional shredding, a projection of our own mortal coil; that’s why the almost orchestral “Parallel Journey” sounds so dramatic, as the piece’s initial static disposition is shattered to gather momentum while heavy attack and acoustic translucence are but nuances and the mood shifts matter more than majestic melody.
That’s also why pure metal passages wouldn’t work here, unlike an unquiet new-age reimagining in “New Horizon” which, smile on, gets calm for an unplugged reading of “Prelude” from Bach’s Cello Suite – a prototype for Hackett’s “Horizons” – whereas the album’s intellectual pinnacle is a two-part “Wind Of Darkness” suite whose bombast can easily, if only there was budget for this, be enhanced with orchestral shroud. As it is, this is as great an adventure as it gets, and though the meaning of life will remain shrouded in mystery, the process of looking for it has a perfect tune now.