Man On Fire - Habitat


Year of Release: 2005
Label: ProgRock Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 68:34:00

Evaluation:

The third effort from studio maven Jeff Hodges introduces Adrian Belew as primary guitarist, and presents a series of interlocked vignettes based around the lives of several characters living on the same city block?

Analysis:

This is an intriguing mix of styles and genres ? composer Hodges has surrounded himself with musicians of tremendous creativity, and, unlike most pastiche-compositions, has managed to create a cohesive, structured entity that brims with vigor, and introduces new melodic and harmonic ideas at every turn. Adrian Belew's deft, quirky guitars are omnipresent but unobtrusive, until required to make themselves known. Belew adds a dark, menacing underpinning, twisting the often static harmonic progressions into other-worldy excursions?

The songs stand on their own as pieces of music well, and the snippets of dialogue and city sounds that introduce each track present a succinct story, enhancing the tone of the successive songs.

Hodges voice reminds me of a cross between Roll The Bones era Geddy Lee and Bad Michael Jackson ? not in the register as much as in the placement and timbre ? there were moments throughout where Rush cast a long shadow, mostly in the choice of melody notes over the chord progressions?

The musicianship is first-rate, and the production is superb. Fretless bass notes are heard as much as felt, and each of the many loops and samples occupies its own space without crowding. Belew's guitars are prominently mixed (not for any reason other than they need to be) and the overall effect is one of careful yet artful design.

Rating:

4.5 /5 (the plus is for giving Belew and company space to play ? it's rare to hear a studio construction breathe as Habitat does?

Summary:

I only have one criticism of this disc and it is purely based on my personal taste. I wish that Mr. Hodges had processed his vocals more prominently, as his voice, left unadorned for the most part, and as the sole melodic instrument, is mixed too prominently. The effect of his near-naked voice is too stark against the heavily layered keyboard/loop/sample bed against which it was overlaid.

This is a unique and satisfying musical experience, delivered with hubris and the right balance of musical hauteur. Go get it.


Tracklisting:
The Block / Mr. Lie / Majestic / Beast Inside / Street Game / What The Canvas Hides / Might Is Right / Curtain Call / Shelter / Love Never Lost / Broken / Habitat

Musicians:
Jeff Hodges - vocals, keyboards, loops/samples
Eric Sands - fretted bass, fretless bass, 7-string guitars
Rob Sindon - drums, percussion
Steve Carroll - lyrics, imagery

Guests:

Adrian Belew - lead and rhythm guitars, effects
David Ragsdale - violin

Discography:
Man On Fire (1998)
The Undefined Design (2003)
Habitat (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: January 5th 2006
Reviewer: Jan-Mikael Erakare
Score:
Artist website: www.manonfire.net
Hits: 843
Language: english

  

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