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Allan Holdsworth - Hard Hat Area CD (album) cover


Allan Holdsworth


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.81 | 39 ratings

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4 stars We all know that sometimes it takes an album awhile to speak to you, time to allow that strange process of digesting art, letting it sit with you, and then giving yourself the opportunity to invite inside what you once kept out. This is, along with a good shelf life, what makes progressive music so special and, at its best, what keeps us coming back for more.

Allan Holdsworth's ninth studio session is that kind of record. Most of Mr. Holdsworth's solo work is not easy, far from it, and though this one took a little longer to appreciate, it was well worth it. The set has a quality that he is best at achieving: the perfect blend of tech-jazz landscapes with a melodic rock sensibility, and in many ways this is one of his boldest albums. Not distracted much by a whiney synth-axe or wowing the shredder fan boys, he conjures up a varied but entirely unified collection of cuts that are more expansive than previous sessions and that utilize his jazz roots through improvisation within structure. His phenomenal band doesn't hurt things either; Steve Hunt on keys, the ridiculous skills of drummer Gary Husband, and Skuli Sverrisson keeping it all together with a first-rate bass performance. Each piece is equally engaging as the band ebbs and flows between delerious jazz-rock of the highest order and softer reflections between the players, Hunt washing over Husband and Sverrisson's backdrops while Allan contemplates gently.

This may not be one of Allan Holdsworth's most beloved offerings but, ironically, it is one of his best.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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