Altitude

DC Slater

Independent release, 2007

http://www.dcslater.com

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/10/2007

New Jersey guitar-slinger DC Slater impressed me enough with his 2005 disc Decisions that when he offered me a review copy of his new one, I said sure.  Sometimes when I do that I end up feeling like the nice guy who got suckered, staring at a disc I didn’t enjoy nearly as much as its predecessor and feeling vaguely guilty when I finally store it away three months later. 

Which is all the more reason I’m glad I said yes to DC’s offer, because my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Altitude -- are you ready for it? -- soars.

If there was a flaw to Decisions, it was the sameness of the arrangements of Slater’s all-instrumental compositions.  Leaving the backbeat as window dressing for Speed Racer solos certainly put the spotlight on Slater’s guitar heroics – and they are commendable – but didn’t leave enough room for variety, feel, dynamics.  Altitude, by contrast, finds Slater stretching out and trying fresh approaches to arrangements while retaining the aggressive virtuosity that is his gift.

And while he still favors squirrelly-fast Satriani-esque soloing, there is enough added musical flavor and variety to otherwise rock-steady tracks like thundering opener “Believe,” the rollicking, moody “City Lights” and the suitably badass “Black Bandana” to make it clear that Slater is continuing to progress on his musical journey.  Continuing to stretch his musical vocabulary, “Rebel Jam” finds Slater crossing hard rock with boogie, while “Looking Back” features an appealing keyboard counterpoint to Slater’s precise, eloquent solos.    

A pair of standout tracks anchor the middle section of this disc.  “Melodie” is a sublimely pretty hard-blues ballad whose name fits like a glove.  Meanwhile, “View From Above” offers an assortment of fresh tones – loose, echoey drums driving a slow jam whose guitar tones veer from dreamy fuzz to sharp squeals and back again, creating one appealing musical interlude after another.

Slater once again handles all instruments himself here -- bass, drums and keyboards in addition to all guitars -- and while some of the tracks still feel less organic and natural than they might if there was more than one musical personality involved in making this music, the total end result is technically outstanding and consistently entertaining.  Altitude achieves fresh new heights for Slater as a composer, guitarist and producer, and is well worth picking up.

Rating: B+

User Rating: A


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