Ray, Rick - The Guitarsonist

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Neurosis Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 67:53:00

Rick Ray's 17th album is The Guitarsonist, a sixteen track affair that again teams the multi-instrumentalist with clarinetist Rick Schultz. Other than for his signature guitar work and production sound ? raw and hazy -- you'd barely know this was Ray listening to the first track. It reminded me very much of The Devouring-era Djam Karet, and specifically the track "Lights Over Roswell." Though the title suggests to you that it'd be all guitar and nothing but guitar, Ray as drummer and bassist are also very much in the mix. Of course, the guitar is still the focus. As with other Ray CDs, his music is more interesting when he lets the instruments tell the story, his arrangements have more dynamics and variations than the vocal pieces that all seem to take a familiar rhythm, varied only slightly by the guitar solos.

When the production isn't hazy, it is overly crisp. A slight change from some past releases, you can hear what Ray is singing as evidenced by the next track, "Psycho Sam." Schultz frenetic clarinet trills seem to work better on this slightly askew track, though Ray and co are far from being anything near RIO. Though played at more leisurely pace, this isn't much different from past Ray efforts. Guitar leads are absent, and that is a change. And maybe that's why the clarinet works, as it's not fighting the guitar leads. That isn't to say there's no guitar, there is, but here is serves as rhythm.

"Kill Max Kill" would be okay, though overlong, as a spacey instrumental. And while it doesn't feature Ray's signature vocals, or even his signature guitar, it isn't a true instrumental as we get a cacophony of voices urging someone to "get out of here," while a girl giggles. Or maybe it's not a girl, as it sounds also like a Michael Jackson impersonator. I suppose the kids are urging Max to kill, and I suspect he wants the crowd of school kids to "get out of here." Or maybe something else? rather than conveying some message about schoolyard violence, if that is indeed the message, it is just annoying. Let's say, Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" got the message across so much more effectively.

Some of the better tracks on the CD include the acoustic based "Mr. Cooper;" the jazzy "Caution Flammable" which features some nice guitar work from Ray, a break from his usual speedy, rock riffs; "Dance Of The Particles" is a dark and grinding monster of a track, lumbering and ominous. Though it is no different from many a Ray track, "The Weasles Bite" does have a neat guitar riff, which gives this track a playful bent. "Of Your Own Design" is another jazzy piece, a little fusiony during the sections without vocals. Buried beneath the vocal sections, Ray plays some nice, cool phrases. "Guitaren't You Surprised" is one part surf-rock, one part guitar rock instrumental merged together to great a groovy whole. "The Climb From Sheol" is atmospheric, a bed of keys laying a foundation for Ray's guitar excursions. While his tone isn't like Gilmour's, I think a little bit of latter day Pink Floyd. "Out In The Street" is one part a jazzy piece, made more so by the percussive rhythm (lots of soft, brushed cymbal work) and Schultz clarinet. The other part is dark, heavy, grinding rock piece. Though not as skillfully executed, it is something you might expect from the likes of French TV or McGill Manring Stevens? playing together of course. Though in some of rockier guitar phrases, I also think of 80s period Rush; that is, Lifeson ("Freewill" and "Spirit Of Radio" both come to mind in snippets). "I'm Sorry" is a beautiful acoustic guitar instrumental that shows that Ray is a better player than composer. Some of the quicker paced arpeggios seem sometimes a little clumsy, tend to run over each other. Given the malaise that much of Ray's material falls into (same song, new words, new riff), that he's mixing it up here and on the other tracks shows some growth for Ray as a solo artist. And, but for the annoying "Kill Max Kill" and the less interesting pieces, this is a varied release from Ray, which shows some renewed energy, new ideas and new sides to Ray.

The Guitarsonist (7:08) / Psycho Sam (5:56) / Kill Max Kill (5:15) / Dance Floor King (3:15) / Mr. Cooper (6:01) / Caution Flammable (3:35) / Domestic Terrorism (6:19) / Dance Of The Particles (2:03) / The Weasles Bite (3:08) / We All Fall Down (2:56) / Of Your Own Design (3:22) / Guitaren't You Surprised (2:52) / The Battlefield (4:13) / The Climb From Sheol (2:27) / Out In The Street (5:36) / I'm Sorry (3:40)

Rick Ray ? guitar, keyboards, bass, rx8, percussion, vocals
Rick Shultz ? clarinet, bass clarinet, electric clarinet

Abnormal Road (1999)
Balance Of Power (1999)
The Great Antagonist (1999)
Clone Man (1999)
Atomic Soldiers (1999)
Neurotic Tendencies (1999)
You People (1999)
Looking Into the Past (1999)
The Key To The Bottomless Pit (1999)
Cast Into Our Dimension (2000)
Living In An Insane World (2000)
Mind Control, Inc. (2000)
Guitarsenal (2000)
Manipulated DNA (2001)
Insanity Flies (2001)
Existing Passages (2002)
The Guitarsonist (2002)
Rick Ray Band - Into The Hands Of Sinners (2003)
Rick Ray Band - Out Of The Mist Of Obscurity (2003)
Rick Ray Band - Night Of The Living Dedicated (2004)
Chainsaw Manicure (2005)
Rick Ray Band - Temporary World (2005)
Rick Ray Band - Nothing To Lose (2007)
Rick Ray Band - Violence Marred By Peace (2008)
Rick Ray Band - The Setlist (2009)

Genre: Rock

Origin US

Added: March 24th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.rickray.net
Hits: 666
Language: english


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