Tony unites once again with Mike Terrana (drums) and Kevin Chown (bass) for yet another impressive offering of Neoclassical Shred Rock for those interested in the genre.
As is customary, the rhythm section relies mainly on repeating rhythmic motifs for the majority of the album, while Tony showcases his veteran chops on both piano and guitar. There is certainly ample room for all three of them to add their personal flair to the compositions, but the focus is on Tony, and as you'd expect, he delivers the goods. "Sophisticaded Domination" (sic) is a gorgeous melodic, introspective number alternating 5/8 and 7/8 meters, with killer drum fills, intuitive bass lines, and of course Tony's mesmerizing soloing. It is followed by what seems to be a tradition on MacAlpine's albums, a solo piano track, this time Chopin's "Etude #12 Opus 10." All I can say is "whoa!". The man's talent knows not boundary.
We also get our driving, midpaced rockers in "Unfortunate Lazarus" and "Shoe Shine Cyber Boy", a gorgeous, pensive breather in the dreamy "Carolina Blue," an uptempo shuffle in closer "Space Ritual," and a clear standout for me in "Mr. Destructive," recalling the almighty RACER X in MacAlpine's blistering lead runs over Terrana's bombastic double-bass-heavy drum fills. I know Wes will like that...but sorry dude, it's not Paul Gilbert playing. Please put your weiner away now.
Any complaints I would have about albums like this are strictly a matter of personal taste, plus the fact that this genre on a whole is not known to produce standout albums. However, Tony has the gift of "song," along with his unbelievable guitar/piano talents. An album like this and Greg Howe's masterpiece "Hyperacuity," (previously reviewed here) while making me want to burn my guitar, definitely rekindle the interest I once had for instrumental guitar wizardry.
Check it out! (Online January 23, 2003)