Brice, Colie - Chameleon

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Song Haus
Catalog Number: SHCD 55004
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:09:00

Colie Brice, who recently [as of Novem ber 200] took an executive position with The in Los Angeles, CA*, released Chameleon last year. Chameleon is his second solo release, New Age Blues being his first. This on the heels of a stint with Phantom's Opera.

I am a firm believer in that life is full of intersections - that something you learn or discover over there, will be reflected in something you discover or learn over here. It happened to me throughout college, where two seemingly unrelated courses would intersect on some topic. Or, for example, in order to be "added" to a philosophy class I was trying to take my sophomore year of college, I had to answer three questions*. The answer to the third question was something I had only learned the week before, while playing Trivial Pursuit.

It relates to this review in this manner. In this week's "issue," I also reviewed Cruz De Hierro's debut album which contains a song "Chameleon 177" and about which I said "just when you think you've got it sussed, this track changes its colours just like, well...just like a chameleon."

Well, the same could be said about Brice's Chameleon, which is a mix of rock, pop, techno and psychedelic music all performed by Brice, with "a little a help from his friends" on a couple of tracks. The Beatles quip comes not without reason - Brice sounds eerily like John Lennon, especially on the Beatles-esque "Only Love Is Real." Oh, not the 60's Beatles, the 70's know, The White Album, though this makes me think of "Across The Universe." Only much more acoustic and accented with sounds of nature. And one might say thematically like "All You Need Is Love." "Only Love..." is a psychedelic, spacey, mainly acoustic treat to start off the album (the song, in a truly acoustic setting, is reprised later on the album, where it comes across as more fragile, and not quite as assertive - no less good, though).

Further evidence of this Beatles homage can be found in "And He Loved Her" (cf "And I Love Her"), "Mystical Music Tour" (cf "Magical Mystery Tour"). Upon hearing "And He Loved Her," an instrumental, this connection is unmistakable as the familiar guitar riffs are borrowed and slowed down just a fraction. While I hate to overuse a word, the guitar shimmers here again, like rippling water fanning out from a dropped pebble...many pebbles in succession. While it's a "cop out" to review an album by telling you other things it sounds like, the guitar here reminds me also of a Billy Joel tune on The Bridge, played by Danny Kortchmar ("This Is The Time"). Joel also is a Beatles fan (or so I'm told), but I'm almost certain the connection is merely mine and not Brice's.

But "Mystical Music Tour" is more a tour through some familiar sounds of some very familiar band. There are part that hint at Rush, as there is a percussive tone like Peart used on "Passage To Bangkok." A few Hendrix-like guitar tones pop in briefly before they become more Pink Floyd-like (the darkness of The Wall is what I'm thinking of ... the intro to "Another Brick In The Wall"). The drums pick up on this and we get deep, echoing, haunting beats. And perhaps it's because of the title and because of the other Beatles homages, but there's a brief moment where at about five and half minutes in you almost expect to hear "Roll up! Roll up for the Magical Mystery Tour..." But that goes, and it's back to Floyd, and specifically the intro to "Time" from Dark Side Of The Moon. Oh, I hear other bits and pieces that I can't quite pin down, though I'm left with the feeling that I should. There are some dramatic, very cinematic moments...oh, Laurence Of Arabia comes to mind, though I can't say from that specifically. Maybe The King And I. I see a large scale pageantry scene with a cast of thousands...the roar of the crowd comes in waves.

"Discovering Joy," which is the second track, is more akin to the Fourth World sonicscapes of Steve Roach. Here you'll find undulating synths providing a bed for rhythmic percussion with a Native American feel and piano interludes. It's sanguine. "Jubilant Front" is different again, with trumpeting synths announcing a short guitar solo.

"Relax" is different again being a rock-techno hybrid, where guitars shimmer, laying down notes along an Eastern scale, and a "Max Headroom"-like voice urges you to relax. I thought of Thomas Dolby while listening to this, though I can't attribute it to any one specific thing...except I'm thinking of his Beyond The Mind's Eye soundtrack.

The most "typical" rocker is "Follow Your Dreams." I dare say form follows function here, as you might expect bright upbeat guitar with searing solos, driving percussion, dreamy and soaring vocals - very AOR. And yet, we prog fans might also think of Pendragon, Jadis, etc.

True weirdness ensues with the very brief "Sampler Madness" which lasts less than a minute.

This varied release is a joy to listen to, it's well played, well composed, and not at all merely rehashes of familiar riffs. It's taking those riffs and making them something new, holding them up for examination, where they can be looked upon with new eyes...or, in this case, heard with new ears.

[*Colie is now {July 2009}, according to his website, with Asbury Media and AERIA Records) -ed.]

*Perhaps this is a particularly US "custom" but even though a class is full, a student may petition to add a class, up to the instructors discretion and provided there is physical room to accommodate the students. As it happens, students also drop classes, so attrition is taken into account. For those curious as to what that question was, it was something like "What is significant about 1066?" I replied, "The Battle Of Hastings," and was thus the fifth of five permitted to "add" the class. I can't recall the second question now, but the first was "Who came first, Jesus Christ or Julius Caesar."

Only Love Is Real (4:16) / Discovering Joy (5:35) / Jubilant Front (1:28) / Relax (3:40) / Follow Your Dreams (4:19) / Prelude In D Minor (1:32) / Alien Perspective (3:12) / What Do You Need To Know (0:24) / Rite Night (2:14) / More Than It Seems (1:37) / And He Loved Her (2:46) / Only Love Is Real [acoustic] (4:44) / Sampler Madness (0:40) / Mystical Music Tour (21:42)

Colie Brice - everything
Eric Walz - acoustic guitar (1, 12)
Bob Nelson - drums and percussion (14)

New Age Blues (1996)
Chameleon (1999)
Blues (2005)
Luna Muse (2005)
Gemini Suite (2006)
Blues v. 2.0 (2006)
Luna Muse Vol II (2007)
Season's Greetings From Bradley Beach, NJ (2008)
Late Bloomer (2008)
Autumn Chronicle: Vol 1 (2009)

Genre: Rock

Origin US

Added: November 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 813
Language: english


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