Segal, Greg - In Search Of The Fantastic

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Phantom Airship Records
Catalog Number: PARGS02
Format: CD
Total Time: 77:37:00

Greg Segal is one half of Jugalbandi and In Search Of The Fantastic is his ninth solo release. The compositions on this album are of a very ambient and/or experimental nature and thus quite different from the material gathered on Always Look On The Dark Side Of Life: Selected Recordings 1984-1993. For the most part, the pieces are quite subtle, drawing in your attention in layers, requiring attuned listening. An audio exhibition, if you will, taking you through the galleries of your mind. I didn't want to say, but will, pictures at a thought exhibition. You must be in a very relaxed and unagitated state to appreciate this music otherwise you'll find the long, lanquid and drowsy passages having the opposite effect.

Most of the pieces fall into this category, and many range in the 1 to 3 minute range. The other 2 categories are guitar sketches (electric and acoustic) and then rock-like pieces (they aren't total rock outs as on Always?). The longest piece on the album is the 11-plus minute "Wednesday, 10 P.M.," a piece of the first category (ambient, atmospheric and experimental)? and a piece that quite reminds me of Steve Roach. Segal plays both fretless guitar, and 7-string, bending the notes to create an ominous and isolated feel ? until it evolves into a bouncier, throbbier (to create a word) passage - wherever you've come to, you're no longer alone, but in no less danger. One can imagine indescribable beings fliting about overhead as you journey through a vast cavern, the limestone walls glistening, appearing pinkish, almost flesh-coloured?you emerge in to what might seem like silence (if you aren't listening closely or on headphones or very loud), but is instead the chittering of birds --- wherever you've emerged to, you're alive at least. Though you can look/listen to the album as a concept work, that makes things too concrete, as a linear concept. The tone is set by a recitation of Edgar Allan Poe's "Alone" over a dark atmospheres created by bowed device, floor tom, and cymbal.

In the first category we get a piece like the seven minute "Looking For Paradise," which lulls you with the dark hum of a bowed device, then plays your senses with a chiming guitar (Segal plays both a 7-string electric and 12-string acoustic here) - a prelude to later pieces (meaning you really do have to view the album as a whole). "Returns" is a longer piece at 5-plus minutes and is dark and droney like "?Paradise," yet with more movement? changes in pitch almost indicate changes in perspective, as with a film cutting from one scene to another (7-string recorded live to tape. "Snallygaster" has a more cinematic feel with quiet, distant, industrial sounding percussion, drones and undulations - yet all that is credited is a 7-string guitar? "The Backroads Of Time" achieves that "frozen moment" affect, created by the low, but quick, rumble of percussion, and in this case found percussion. It all serves to create a very tense, intense, and dramatic moment - something big is about to happen, and that Segal can't keep that tension for 4 minutes is to his credit. "What Once Was Is" is a very arty piece in four movements, only two repeating - the first and third dark, lumbering; the second more calming, and the latter, more peaceful and at ease. And though they aren't necessarily related, the first movement ups the tension created in "Backroads." Whatever that "something big" is, attacks with subtlety, quietly toying with its victim, as cat would a mouse. The game grows more intense (the return of the first movement) before the captured victim escapes (that last movement).

Chiming guitar with a light, bright tone is the only instrument in "Madstone," a charming fragment of barely 2 minutes that is sort of Yes-like. An acoustic intro recalling Yes' early period ("Your Move" comes to mind in terms of feel). A similar thing can be said of "Sanctuary" though here the guitar, seemingly multi-tracked, is given some psychedelic effects, one effect sounding like the audio equivalent of whispy smoke tracking ceilingward. The quickly strummed guitar in "Around The Healing Spring" hints at the acoustic aspects of Led Zeppelin ("Going To California" comes to mind); here again Segal plays Appalachian dulcimer along with his 7-string. "Bhaga" flirts with the idea of an early-to-mid-60s Rolling Stones like guitar groove ("Brown Sugar" say), with Segal creating both the bass and guitar parts at once (or maybe multi-tracked, but I don't think so).

"Sahara, 1909" is, for most of it's 7-plus minute length, a pulse-pounding mix of throbbing bass-sounds and rumbling percussion, given a dose of darkness and mystery by just a hint of keyboards, blowing wind effects (Segal's instrument palette here: floor tom, snare, cymbal, and 7-string). Close your eyes and see the Sahara at night - cold, crisp air blows, kicking up sand, blotting out a clear and starry night as you anxiously await the passing of the sand-storm. The industrial feel of "Snallygaster" is picked up with the very brief "The Deros Discover King Soloman's Mines," which in the first movement is very springy, with a dull clanging sound, and chittery, in the second, the spring-bouncy sound is there, but more hollow sounding; in the third, springy and more rhythmic sounding? a bit tribal, in a way (instrumentation: assorted found percussion, toy xylophone, African slit drum, floor tom). "The India-Appalachia Railway" is a richly instrumented piece even while the arrangement itself is sparse - Segal here plays an Appalachian dulcimer, the bowed device again, floor tom, snare, and tambourine. "The Bad Ass Ride" is a dark, angry, churning piece with groovy, surf-like guitar leads. Imagine surfing on hot lava in the dark of night.

Though by rights, I should mention the last track with the others in the second category, one really must listen to this album in track order, because it takes you on a journey, though not necessarily a chronological one. "Paradise Is Where You Find It" is a cheerful piece, again with chiming, ringing acoustic over a darker, deeper guitar tones? and it suggests that whatever you've been through (it comes after "Wednesday, 10 P.M."), you made it?

If you look at the shorter pieces in isolation, you think of them as, perhaps, undeveloped. Ideas and sketches that haven't reached full development. View them as moments on a journey, and view the album as a whole, it flows together. How you respond to this depends upon what you look for in music. Tracks begin and end with no set beginning and end, and when they are contrasting, that can feel chaotic. You need to see the forest for the trees to understand the forest as a whole, but what we remember is the forest. You need to listen to this album for each piece, but what you will remember is the journey it took you on. I like it and enjoyed listening to it. As much as I like ambient music, it was the latter two styles that appealed the most.

This dichotomy makes it hard to give it a rating. It's done well, so a 4 or 5, but because those shorter pieces do or can seem unfinished, do we give it a 3 or 3.5? and yet, they are meant as vignettes? so? So, taking the possibilities, adding them together and finding the average we get?

Rating: 3.88/5

Alone (1:21) / Looking For Paradise (7:54) / Nad (2:16) / Sahara, 1909 (7:29) / Congruence Asserts Its Presence (1:08) / Madstone (1:49) / Returns (5:04) / Snallygaster (3:36) / The Deros Discover King Solomon's Mines (2:07) / Sanctuary (2:06) / The India-Appalachia Railway (7:22) / Was It Childhood (2:44) / The Bad Ass Ride (2:22) / Around The Healing Spring (2:01) / Bhoga (1:52) / The Backroads of Time (4:21) / What Once Was Is (6:15) / Of Brief Stays (1:31) / Wednesday, 10 P.M. (11:47) / Paradise Is Where You Find It (2:07)

Greg Segal - 12-string acoustic, 7-string electric, African slit drum, Appalachian dulcimer, assorted found percussion, bowed device, cymbal, floor tom, found percussion, fretless guitar, guitar, slide guitar, snare, tambourine, toy xylophone, and vocals

A Man Who Was Here
Night Circus
The Fourth Of Three
Water From The Moon
A Real Human Being (soundtrack)
Darkland Express
Experimental Guitar Sampler
Jugalbandi - The View From The Top Of The Food Chain (2000)
Jugalbandi - Yellow Star Mailing List (2000)
Jugalbandi - The Cram And Stuff Method (2000)
Always Look On The Dark Side Of Life (2001)
In Search Of The Fantastic (2002)
Duets Vol 1 (w/Bret Hart) (2002)
Duets Vol 2 (w/Bret Hart) (2003)
intext (w/Chrissy Barr) (2003)
Asleep Of Somewhere Else (w/Eric Wallack) (2003)
Jugalbandi - Night Crazy (2003)
Jugalbandi - Laydown Delivery (2003)
Jugalbandi - Bid For Legitimacy (2003)
Jugalbandi - Mount Pinatubo Sunsets (2003)
An Awareness Of Frameworks (2004)
The Eye That Shines In Darkness (2004)
Standard (2004)
The Hero As Pantry (2004)
Planet Of Garbage (2004)
Episodes (2004)
Adventures Of Forever And Nowhere (2004)
Rivers (2005)
A Play Of Light And Shadow (2006)
The Old Familiar Place (2006)
Tales Of Today Will Be Tales Of Long Ago (2006)
Phase Two (2006)
Wonder, Doubt And Curiosity (w/David McIntire) (2007)
Jugalbandi - Jugalbandi Classic (rec 1993, rel 2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: March 7th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 864
Language: english


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