Ray, Rick - Clone Man

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Neurosis Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 69:02:00

[Editor's Note: This is the first of three reviews, where each follows on from the next. Clone Man, The Key To The Bottomless Pit, and Neurotic Tendencies]

Assigning any sort of sequence to these three Rick Ray disks under review is a bit difficult, as they are all bear a 1999 copyright date. However, we can tell that Clone Man, reviewed here, was recorded in June 1999, and thus starts the review.

Because Rick Ray is recording and releasing a great deal of material, all within a short time frame, there is much on these three that is the same from album to album. Not to the degree where you have different arrangements of the same idea, but more on the order of ? if you put the discs in shuffle mode, you might be unable to tell from which album each track is taken. Over time, artists' sounds change, even if their core style doesn't - different instruments, different producers, advancements in technology, whatever. While this lends consistency to Ray's releases, it can also lead to a loss of interest. Where Ray shines is during the instrumental sections - where he lets loose on his guitar. This isn't a solo-fest, however - bits of vocals between guitar pyrotechnics, but the vocals are what give the tracks a singular dimension.

Neither Ray, nor the other vocalists Jack Ambrose and John Cek, are bad. Rather they fall into an average range - listenable, without over shadowing or undercutting the music. Often the vocals are treated with effects, and the three sound similar enough that I can't tell you who is singing which track. Of the three disks, Cek and Ambrose only appear on Clone Man, and apparently all three, along with clarinetist Rick Schultz, were members of a band called Riot Act [a live disk has just been re-released and will be reviewed for February's issue - ed.].

Song subjects tackle issues rather than romantic notions or wildly fantastic concepts (a la Yes, say). So, in that respect, it's real world and down to earth, as much of modern American progressive rock is getting. It is rather hard to think about undertaking a fantastic journey into the center of the earth or close to the edge when you are more concerned about where that next paycheck is going to come from. Or wondering if this is the year the Big One will hit, whatever Big One you're worried about (mind you, we actually do need Wakeman and Yes, et al, so we aren't driven insane by our concerns - or, in other words, I like Yes, too.).

So, what about the music, eh? Ray is a dynamic guitarist - rather a dynamic multi-instrumentalist, as he also plays bass, percussion and keys. However, "The Exterminator" is a track that stands out more for the clarinet of Rick Schultz than anything else; trilling in an ascending scale, the clarinet seems wildly out of place in the mix. Let's say it is as if you had two pieces playing. Alone, neither parts are bad - together they're?well, irritating.

There's a Beatles-esque quality to the vocals on "Sands Of Time," but only vaguely. The Beatles of Sgt. Pepper's maybe, or the White Album perhaps - somewhat dreamy harmonics (slightly off key).

The title track has a strange quality to it that made me think of Doctor Who - really any 60s-70s sci-fi series. You know - the cheap cardboard or plaster or plastic sets, the humour we see now in giant bugs clearly men in ill-fitting costumes. Knowing about the limited budgets and what not, I'm not knocking sci-fi, but the "Clone Man" track will make you think of such things.

The clarinet returns in "The Fire And The Flame" and while it is at times out of place, is used here to much greater effect than elsewhere. "The Fictitious Man" closes out the disk, and is too much like "Clone Man."

This is a good release overall, and Ray's guitar playing will draw you in.

Are We Ready (4:18) / Scream (7:31) / Almost Beyond Repair (5:45) / The Exterminator (4:52) / Sands Of Time (4:45) / My Chair (4:11) / Front Seat In Hell (4:00) / Tell Me Where (4:52) / Clone Man (4:54) / Divided We Fall (7:29) / Can't Escape (4:27) / The Chase, The Race, The Place (3:36) / The Fire And The Flame (4:06) / The Fictitious Man (4:16)

Rick Ray - guitars, bass, percussion, RX8, vocals, and guitar synth
Rick Shultz - clarinet
Jack Ambrose - vocals
John Cek - vocals

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: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: January 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.rickray.net
Hits: 821
Language: english


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