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ADRIAN WEISS Big Time Audio Magnet/Guitar Nine (2012)

Adrian Weiss

Adrian Weiss' 'Big Time' is everything you would want from a rock instrumental guitar album. The German based, American progressive metal guitarist delivers thoughtfully constructed songs and imaginative themes full of explosive fretwork magic. The band interplay is remarkable given the some of the parts were recorded at different times but they are all glued together by an array of Adrian's own warm tones which engage the listener as in a conversation.

Guitarist Adrian Weiss has made his name with progressive metal band Forces At Work and this solo album has apparently been some years in the making. Some of the material apparently goes back as far as 1999, but whatever the origins, the net result is 11 tracks bristling with ideas and an adventurous spirit that showcases contemporary guitar playing at its best.

Aside from his scintillating playing and compositional excellence, what sets this album apart from so many his peers is that Adrian places a great emphasis on communicating what the music is all about in the simplest way possible. Both the liner notes and the solos connect with the listener as he engages us on two levels. And where so many albums overload the listener with a sonic avalanche of big production hi-tech shredding,

'Big Time' does the opposite, working from the simplest meaning of song titles through structurally coherent compositions to their eventual guitar led resolution Such is the self evident melodic quality of 'Big Time' that the music eloquently carries the message as the solos become an integral part of the piece rather than dominating them.

There's a real consistency to much of the material which enables Adrian to extend his own voice over time and different lineups, while fellow guitarist Demian Henke appears on 4 co-authored tracks contributing lead, rhythm and acoustic parts that bring an extra dynamic to the album. Then there's the bigger picture which encompasses the flow of an album that never lets its grip on you lessen over 11 tracks.

'Big Time' opens with the alternating electric/acoustic and melodic unison guitar lines of 'Summer Drive' which works its way towards a big crescendo. There's a celebratory and up lifting feel to 'Desert Sanctuary' complete with more contrasting electric and acoustic parts, and a compressed tension filled explosive feel to 'Liquid Pension Embellishment'

Adrian taps into an impressive creative energy source which he coherently beings to life with his fluent guitar playing. His bundle of ideas find expression in the undulating, spiraling guitar lines and pulverizing drums that populate 'Morning Run' - an effective evocation of a 5am run - and the beautifully crafted Disappear' with its delicate acoustic guitar, sonorous fretless bass and imposing sculpted lead guitar solo.

Adrian Weiss quite simply lets his solos do his talking for him. He engages you in an emotional and musical roller coaster ride that includes everything from long linear guitar lines to edgy metal and the fractured stop-start, fast changing time signatures of 'The Progressive Society'. There's real Crimsonesque Frippery at play and an explosion of thrilling shredding that brings a tightly wrapped mangled guitar finish to an excellent solo album. 'Big Time' overcomes the usual instrumental clichés to hold widespread appeal to rock fans as a whole and is well worth checking out.


Review by Pete Feenstra


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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