Hall, Hughes - Pacifica

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Independent Records
Catalog Number: IR01342
Format: CD
Total Time: 43:41:00

Sitting here, listening to Hughes Hall's Pacifica, I was struck by a multitude of thoughts all jumbling and tumbling out together in a tangled mass: this sounds like the Pacific, that keyboard part in the first track, "Earth, Sea, Sky" makes me think of something by Steve Winwood or maybe it's Little River Band; that others parts remind me of Tangerine Dream (the later years). All instrumental, this is an electronic album that hasn't left out the warmth -- among the synths and drum machines one can hear piano and guitar -- a quality suggests they're real (but their mimicked or synthesized counterparts could be that good). No equipment list is included, but credit is given to Jeff Stott who plays guitar on "Big Valley" which he co-wrote with Hall. It is otherwise Hall on everything heard.

There is a lot of depth to Hall's compositions, shadings of colours both dark and light. It isn't an album full of soft pastels, but rather bolder and darker colours are thrown in, all of which give each a track their own momentum, even if that movement is languid and leisurely, as a drive of up the California coast needs must be. There is something to driving up the highway with the top down, the sun warm on your (sun protected) skin, the glittering sea your companion. Hall has captured this perfectly on the title tune. Though he was thinking of coastal area of central California, the music is equally evocative of the Southern California coast, from Mission Viejo to Mission Bay (those living in or familiar with that part of California will know that I'm picturing the 5 Freeway, with a slight detour along the 8... a drive I personally took many, many times in my college years). In fact, I am thinking of this particular drive so much, I'm anxious to get out there and really drive it with this playing... especially the rockier "Big Valley" and the title track. I'd like to say that's what I've gone and done, but it's after midnight as I write this and the sun is a few hours off.

"Circles" is a track that will remind some of Paul Speer, with it's guitar up front, though more so of his collaborations with David Lanz than solo; "Rincon" puts the guitar out front over a bed of very sparse percussion and a blanket of keys -- sort of what might result if Craig Chaquico. Steve Roach, and David Lanz collaborated. All this is presented through the lazy, haze of early morning, just as the sun is coming up. People remark on the the sunsets, but our sunrises are equally beautiful -- mist shrouding pine trees is the image that comes to mind. "Tuesday" sounds like a bit like Christopher Cross's "Sailing," but doesn't exactly quote from the track; there's a simliarity in structure and tone. The classic soft rock of the 70s is also evoked by "Turning," as the piano phrases here reminded me of Little River Band's "Take It Easy On Me." (though, with the Pacific as a backdrop, one would rather suspect it'd be "Cool Change" instead -- though LRB are Australian). There are darker shadings here from the bass... in glancing at other reviews, I noticed Bruce Hornsby's name mentioned, but it wasn't until "Turning" that I realized with they meant, as the song draws to a close.

"Great Escape" might be the closest to "prog," in that it is an upbeat and energetic piece that one could easily hear coming from the fingers of Jadis, or some lighter Clive Nolan project. Its loping rhythm suggests not the leisurely coastal drive, but rather speeding up the coast, hair and clothes flapping in the wind, the adrenaline rush of driving perhaps a little over the speed limit (not that I ever have; goodness no; of course, not. Me? Pshaw). Hall plays some really great guitar leads that just carry you along -- nothing overly flashy or speedy, but solid and colourful.

While Pacifica is his first solo CD, it is not his first foray into music, as Hall has composed music for the trailers for such films as Dark City, Se7en, Blade and An American Werewolf In Paris, among others. As he says in his bio, "Became disillusioned with 'the industry.' Recorded solo CD." I'll say that this is to our advantage, as Hall has provided the soundtrack not to the trailer of our lives, but the whole movie (or at least, one chapter). Highly Recommended.

Earth - Sea - Sky (4:15) / Sedona (4:29) / Big Valley (4:54) / Waiting (3:42) / Pacifica (4:56) / Circles (5:32) / Rincon (4:46) / Tuesday (3:27) / Turning (5:16) / Great Escape (4:24)

Hughes Hall - everything
Jeff Stott - guitar (3)

Pacifica (2000)

Genre: Other

Origin US

Added: May 18th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.hugheshall.com
Hits: 644
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]