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Steve Tibbetts - Safe Journey CD (album) cover

SAFE JOURNEY

Steve Tibbetts

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.39 | 8 ratings

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Flemdido
4 stars From other reviews and background on this artist, you should know that the music of Steve Tibbetts (and Marc Anderson) provides a great dynamic range and shifting of intensity, both within tracks and between different tracks. This recording is an excellent example of their styles and approach. Their music is out of category - certainly not rock, nor any other mainstream style; jazz aficionados generally hate this stuff, it being too experimental and noisy for their tastes. Music critics in general seem to pan the recordings of Tibbetts, I think because it doesn't fit into their preconceived categories of what music should be. That's their loss, don't let it be yours!

"Adventurously eclectic" said one review (Downbeat); to me, it is dominated by irresistibly penetrating rhythms and themes. This is a recording that captures the soundtrack of my heart and mind. It has been characterized as "ambient" by some, and while it is that at times, it is much more than that - it is truly dominating foreground music, not for background because at lower volume you will be missing the beautiful integration of the instruments and the intensity of it. But if you're expecting something that dominates your attention at all times, this probably won't be satisfying, and you'll find it pointless (and maybe ya need a longer attention span).

This is one of many (but not all) of Tibbetts recordings that is an intricate mixture of guitar and percussion. To me, the billing on these albums should be Tibbetts and Anderson, referring to Marc Anderson, who frequently accompanies Steve and arranges the percussion tracks. Tibbetts is the dominant creative genius, but the integrated textures of guitar overdubs and intense driving percussion are inseparable on these Tibbetts/Anderson albums. Without the percussion, the music would be lacking the enormous emotion and intensity it provides. There are other percussionists who accompany Anderson on this album (Tim Weinhold, Steve Cochrane).

"Test", the first track, fades in with softly throbbing percussion and an intensifying alternation of distorted power chords, then a screaming lead track. The percussion drives steadily on; the guitar tracks fade in, scream, and fade out. Excellent track, one of the best compositions of Tibbetts/Anderson.

"Climbing" is a much softer tune with a gentle steady rhythm with steel drums and a wonderfully integrated lead track. It merges into "Running", also a softer composition with an interesting rhythm track, nice steady rhythm guitar, and a soft lead track. These two provide a very nice interlude and move seamlessly into "Night Again", which begins with a few simple ringing notes repeated on a 12-string guitar, and expands into simple chords and patterns with a haunting background (synthesizer and subtle percussion). These tracks continue the air of mystery and haunting that fills this album.

In the liner notes to another Tibbetts album is an interesting anecdote about the song "Running". Steve and Marc spent a day in a grassy filed surrounded by cement buildings at a college in Minneapolis, where there was "a good slap-echo". The sound of Marc's young son running toward Marc gave a left-to-right rhythmic sound, which with Marc's clicking rachet and the breathing of the boy provided an interesting tape-loop that was used as the foundation of the song. (This is from an interview of Tibbetts by Michael Engelbrecht.)

"My Last Chance" is a pleasant mix of a higher pitched lead track, layered with a nice gentle rhythm guitar track, some fitting base notes (Bob Hughes is credited with bass), and excellent percussion. "Vision" begins with a steady rhythm and a lead track that sounds reminiscent of bells, but after a bit over a minute the soothing is penetrated by a searing lead guitar that dominates much of the rest of the five minute track. "Any Minute", "Mission" and "Burning Up" feature driving, yet not overly intense, rhythm tracks painted with relatively simple guitar overdubs. "Any Minute" includes something that sounds to me like vibraphone, but apparently isn't (per album credits).

"Going Somewhere" completes the album with a long meandering track, certainly more ambient than most others on this album, that repeatedly wanders diversely from quiet soundscape, into a searing lead, then back to the quiet soundscape. If you're looking for Pink Floyd, this probably goes nowhere for you, but I find it intriguing, but not captivating from start to end.

The cover art is an interesting picture of what looks like a border exit gate over a dirt road, with the inscription "ByeBye Safe Journey". I'm sure there is a good story behind it, but don't know it. I have read that the US domestic cut of this is from a later version of the master copy and lacks the richness of the original master, so the import is of better quality. I cannot verify if that is the case; all I have heard are the US releases (vinyl and CD), they are satisfactory to me.

Overall, this is a wonderfully soothing set of compositions with varying intense interludes that keep it well away from New Age mush - not even remotely comparable to that crap. It has been a long-time favorite, and is music that I will always grab first when collecting tunes for a long road trip, and gets played early in the trip. and maybe again later. Top to bottom, I think it is one of Tibbetts best albums, it is top-notch stuff that never grows old.

Solidly worth 4.5 stars. ByeBye.

Flemdido | 4/5 |

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