Bozzio Levin Stevens - Black Light Syndrome

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA-9019-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 65:32:00

If I had only one sentence to use to describe Bozzio Levin Stevens' Black Light Syndrome and why you should add this to your collection, it would be this: this album is absolutely stunning!

Admittedly, before I first heard this album, I had some trepidations. My experience of Steve Stevens was his work with Billy Idol, and as for Terry Bozzio, of course only via Missing Persons. And really for both, nothing beyond the singles played on the radio. So, my angle was from a pop perspective.

With Tony Levin, it was really with King Crimson's Thrak that I first "heard" him - though I now find him scattered throughout various tracks by various artists in my collection, not just Peter Gabriel. Of course, I had heard his other project, Liquid Tension Experiment, just before.

But again, this album is stunning! "Book Of Hours," for example, is a beautiful piece of instrumental art - intricate and textured. To say that Stevens' guitar playing is expressive is an understatement - there is a point to every note. The keyboard runs aren't there to prove dexterity but to give voice to an idea, a thought, a feeling. This is what true guitar players do, the guitar is merely the means.

But, let's not overlook Tony Levin's bass playing or Terry Bozzio's drumming. Here and with Liquid Tension Experiment, the opportunity to hear Levin is so much greater than his work with Gabriel (at least to me). You don't just hear his bass or Chapman Stick, you feel it. In the lower ranges, it is like the pulse that beats within.

Yeh, that does sound like a lot of hyperbole. But it's not. There is an energy here, whether the pace is quick or leisurely as on any track on this album including "The Sun Road" or "Book Of Hours."

The first of these begins the album with a sinewy, sultry guitar intro over an ominous bass/drum backbeat. Where Stevens is the sun - his playing is bright, clear, like a crisp, cloudless morning in the middle of the Southwest - and Levin and Bozzio are the road - meandering, hard, full of possibilities, as if something waits at the end. To put it in cinematic terms: That something doesn't wait - Stevens' guitar and Levin's bass work against each other, creating a sense of conflict, a chaotic battle. That Stevens' guitar rises back up to take the lead, making its way through leisurely, to a picked southwestern arpeggio - suggesting to me arriving at the end of the road - the destination.

Compared to most of the other Magna Carta releases - say Shadow Gallery, Magellan, etc. - this is closer to jazz fusion than prog-metal. And yet, there are many passages throughout with a distinctly southwestern feel, no doubt down to the use of acoustic guitar employed here.

But make no mistake, this album rocks as well, as Stevens encourages an odd assortment of strange noises from his guitar - the beginning to "Chaos/Control" is evidence enough, as this in an energized guitar work out, Levin's bass percolating beneath, and Bozzio's driving drums - at times, his pattern in sync with Stevens fretwork. No mere time keeper he.

A short review doesn't do this justice, really. You just have to hear it - over and over and over again.

The Sun Road (14:37) / Dark Corners (8:31) / Duende (7:25) / Black Light Syndrome (8:45) / Falling In Circles (9:07) / Book of Hours (9:38) / Chaos/Control (8:49)

Terry Bozzio - drums
Tony Levin - basses and stick
Steve Stevens - all guitars

Black Light Syndrome (1997)
Situation Dangerous (2000)

Genre: Fusion-Jazz Fusion

Origin US

Added: April 10th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1330
Language: english


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