White Willow, Future Hopes

by Rick Krueger

The only White Willow album I’d heard before their new effort was 2011’s doomy Terminal Twilight.  Gorgeous, Gothic stuff, but it didn’t leap out at me as anything special.  Future Hopes, however, is a gripping album, unpretentious in presentation (Roger Dean cover notwithstanding) but wonderfully ambitious in scope and sonics.  It starts in darkness, then doggedly journeys toward the light — and it carried me along from beginning to end. Continue reading “White Willow, Future Hopes”

Allan Holdsworth (1946-2017): Endless Melody

It took me a while to get my hands on a copy of the late Allan Holdsworth’s new compilation, Eidolon.  It was well worth the wait.

What strikes me on the second listen to Eidolon is the seemingly endless flow of melody Holdsworth tapped.  Despite his stunning contributions to the first U.K. album, it’s clear in retrospect that the man wasn’t comfortable in a highly structured musical environment.  Like his hero John Coltrane, Holdsworth was much happier stating the tune at the start, in bebop head style, then seeing where he could travel with it.

Taking on the basic materials of scales and arpeggios from oblique directions, chaining them together into lightning fast, super-dense sheets of sound, slowing or stopping dead on a sustained note or an unexpected harmonic twist at just the right moment, all somehow connected to the chord changes he floated above — this is what Holdsworth brought to the Tony Williams Lifetime and Soft Machine, what he developed further in Bill Bruford’s band (before and after U.K.), and what he spent the rest of his life exploring.  From the evidence here, he never ran out of new territory to pioneer; minds were duly blown, and hearts were duly moved.

Despite the admiration and support of more famous shredders like Eddie Van Halen and Joe Satriani, Allan Holdsworth never broke through to wide acclaim. But Eidolon leads me to believe that the gift of music — especially of melody — always brought him joy. Kudos to Manifesto Records for their re-release of all of Holdsworth’s albums (compiled as The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever) and this excellent compilation — which you can check out below.

Rick Krueger

A Forgotten Masterpiece–UK from 1978

Happily, my good friend, Thad Wert, just agreed to become a Progarchist.  

He just published a wonderful examination of U.K. on his own excellent website.  

Here’s an appetizer:

In England in 1978, when Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Buzzcocks were riding high, you could not go more against the grain of musical tastes than to record a prog-rock album featuring veterans of Yes, King Crimson, Roxy Music, and a fusion jazz guitarist. Yet that is what John Wetton (bass & vocals), Bill Bruford (percussion), Eddie Jobson (keyboards & violin), and Alan Holdsworth (guitar) did. Released on the EG label, the eponymous lp was pretty much ignored in the U.S. Bruford was a former member of Yes, and he had played with Wetton in King Crimson during their “Lark’s Tongues In Aspic” through “Red” period. Eddie Jobson had played keyboards and violin in Roxy Music, and Alan Holdsworth had been a member of the jazz drummer Tony William’s fusion group Lifetime as well as Soft Machine.

To read the full thing, go here–http://fractad.wordpress.com/2012/10/13/1978s-u-k-an-overlooked-prog-masterpiece/