Ωne

Bruce Stringer

Independent release, 2015

http://www.brucestringer.net

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/25/2015

First things first: I’m really hoping “Bruce Stringer” isn’t a stage name, because it’s pretty spot on for a guitarist-composer-arranger-producer who makes atmospheric instrumental music. This particular Stringer is an Aussie with previous experience as a session musician and soundtrack composer, as well as comprising half of a self-described Chinese-Western duo called “Space Of Snow” with Elaine Wang Yi-Ling, who stops in to contribute ethereal, wordless vocals to two tracks here.

Ωne is, at its core, moody, cinematic instrumental prog—intriguing, a little mysterious, and consistently entertaining. Mixing pulsing synths, vintage rock guitar and real acoustic drums in a way that would make David Gilmour nod in recognition, Ωne also reminds at times of Hinotori, the recent collaboration between Japanese instrumental proggers Rovo and System 7, the duo including guitarist Steve Hillage. There’s a certain indefinable meeting of Eastern and Western musical sensibilities happening inside of these arrangements.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Opener “Hieronymous Bosch” is an airy, energetic number, maybe the most assertive of the bunch with a nimble, repeating Hammond organ theme and almost arena-rock guitar riffing. When you add Yi-Ling’s wordless yet powerful vocals on top, it’s hard not to think of Evanesence, although this is considerably proggier territory.

“Carnation” is where the Floyd/Gilmour influence comes on strong, as Stringer bounces sky-large, heavily reverbed guitar riffs and solos off a pulsing bed of synths, with acoustic drums underneath; this could be a lost track from Wish You Were Here. “OMNI” follows with more stinging guitar over a throbbing bed of synth textures.

Wi-Ling returns for the aptly-named “Mathematics,” a bit of angular math-rock that once again plays digital and analog, organic and electronic off against each other, as Stringer plants the synths and vocals up top and turns the guitar into a rhythm instrument chugging along underneath. By contrast, “Talk Talk” feels like a novelty number with its cacophony of random pop-culture samples layered over a purposely cheesy synth-guitar-drums theme. It’s almost cute, but feels like maybe a reach too far.

After that, the basic palette begins to repeat, making the arrangements of numbers like the arena-tinged “Mount Etna Erupts” and the denser, proggier “World Of Tomorrow” start to feel a little familiar. The good news is, Stringer switches things up a bit in the second half, moving into darker, bluesier territory with “Dreaming Of Machines” (love the menacing purr of the synth in the background) while offering a genuinely cinematic jazz-fusion piece in “Gemini.” Closer “Who Will Protect The Innocent?” has a techno-futuristic drive that brought back fond memories of Ronnie Montrose’s “Condition Yellow” from the Gamma 3 album.

Ωne is an impressive accomplishment, an instrumental prog album whose often-intricate arrangements never lose track of the essential melodic thread that propels the music ever forward. It’s everything you look for from this sort of album: atmospheric, cinematic, evocative; manifesting obvious influences but investing them with fresh energy, drive and imagination.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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