Levin, Tony - Pieces Of The Sun

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Narada
Catalog Number: 72438-11626-2-0
Format: CD
Total Time: 62:02:00

Among progressive musicians, "bassist" Tony Levin has one of the most impressive resumes, having lent his fearsome expertise to a vast number of projects in the past three decades. From John Lennon and Peter Gabriel to King Crimson and Liquid Tension Experiment, Tony Levin has virtually gone everywhere progressive rock has to offer and beyond, while pursuing his solo career. Pieces Of The Sun is Levin's second solo album for Narada Records, following 2000's Waters Of Eden. Having never listened to the latter, I can't discuss what progressions Levin has made, or if one album is better than the other. However, I can unequivocally state that Pieces Of The Sun is one great album.

Levin's support for Pieces Of The Sun is his touring band and they are one hell of a band! Larry Fast, Jesse Gress, and Jerry Marotta are names familiar to modern rock and jazz listeners as, like Levin, they have been featured on countless albums and playing together as a unit for some years. (Levin, Marotta and Fast were all members of Peter Gabriel's first touring band.) Their sound is extremely tight, and all share in the writing credits; two songs ("Geronimo" and "Blue Nude Reclining") are group compositions and the title track was co-written by Levin and Marotta.

The album's title reveals precisely what much of it is about: the sun. "Apollo", "Pieces of the Sun", and "Ever The Sun Will Rise" are what Levin refers to as "the large sun pieces", based on the sun's influence on our world. "Apollo" is a rousing, cinematic opener that features The California Guitar Trio. "Pieces of the Sun" is a rhythm-heavy track that incorporates tribal-style drumming and far eastern themes around a straight-ahead rock guitar attack. "Ever The Sun Will Rise" is the longest track and, according to Levin, "is about hope and faith". Opening quietly with Stick and piano, the song mutates into a synthesizer-driven rocker until the Stick-piano duo returns to close the show.

Fun abounds on Pieces Of The Sun, and a lot of it can be found in the three re-worked songs present here. "Dog One" is a never-used Peter Gabriel tune that Levin has always loved and got special permission to include here. One of only two songs with vocals (and that's a liberal use of the term), "Dog One" is the album's straight-ahead rocker and features Levin, Marotta, and Gress counting off the dogs, one, two and three. A completely deconstructed-reconstructed "Tequila" follows, totally unrecognizable yet vaguely familiar until the first "vocal" identifies the song as a cover of The Champs' Top 40 single from way back when! The arrangement is torrid, calling to mind a smoke-filled jazz lounge with couples moving far too close together on the darkened dance floor. "Phobos", from Larry Fast's Synergy album Cords, is the next to get the Levin makeover. The song is immediately recognizable, but gets a rocking boost from Marotta's drumming and some great guitar work from Gress.

"Geronimo" is named after the Levin family's dog Mo, who apparently was a bit of a daredevil with a penchant for leaping from high places! Though now departed, Mo's spirit is recalled in the frenetic arrangement, a down and dirty funk workout that features some heavy duty, bottom of the grease bucket upright bass from Levin. "Aquafin" features a two-part arrangement; the first half is light and melodic, based on the acoustic guitars of Gress and Marotta, while the second half evolves into an AOR-style piece reminiscent of Journey's Dream After Dream soundtrack. "Ooze" lives up - or down, depending on your perspective - to its name, drifting along on a dreamy, Indian-sounding arrangement based on a tribal drum and Levin's guitar and cello. "Blue Nude Reclining" is a short, jazzy groove built on a sweet guitar melody from Gress and features some nice solos from Marotta on sax and Levin on Stick. "The Fifth Man" brings King Crimson to mind with its complex rhythms and the juxtaposition of Levin's Stick and Gress' guitars. "Silhouette" follows "Ever the Sun Will Rise", evoking images of beautiful sunsets and effectively closing out the album and its solar theme.

Powerful and evocative, Pieces Of The Sun is a standout effort in a genre already over-full with outstanding efforts, one that demands extended cd player time and many repeated listenings. Don't pass this one by!

Apollo (6:49) / Geronimo (3:11) / Aquafin (5:13) / Dog One (5:15) / Tequila (5:20) / Pieces Of The Sun (7:20) / Phobos (7:08) / Ooze (4:16) / Blue Nude Reclining (3:08) / The Fifth Man (5:47) / Ever The Sun Will Rise (9:08) / Silhouette (4:37)

Tony Levin - basses, stick, cello
Jesse Gress - guitars
Larry Fast - synthesizers
Jerry Marotta - drums

World Diary
From The Caves Of The Iron Mountain
Bruford Levin Upper Extremities - Bruford Levin Upper Extremities (1998)
Liquid Tension Experiment - Liquid Tension Experiment (1998)
Bozzio Levin Stevens - Black Light Syndrome (1998)
Liquid Tension Experiment - Liquid Tension Experiment 2 (1999)
Bruford Levin Upper Extremities - B.L.U.E Nights (2000)
Waters Of Eden (2000)
Pieces Of The Sun (2002)
Double Espresso (2002)
Resonator (2006)

Complete discography at www.tonylevin.com

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: May 18th 2002
Reviewer: David Cisco
Artist website: www.tonylevin.com
Hits: 1192
Language: english


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