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Mike Keneally - Wooden Smoke CD (album) cover

WOODEN SMOKE

Mike Keneally

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.03 | 11 ratings

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Megaphone of Destiny
4 stars I'm honoured to be the first person to give this record a review. I'll give a 4.2 star, overall (4). The music of this record is as different from any other Mike Keneally record, yet, we always feel the same invention, the same melodic inspiration, the same excelent playing. Wooden Smoke, as the title indicates is a sort of acoustic record. Like "Song From the Wood" of Jethro Tull. The first theme is an harmonious arpeggio of guitars that leads into this record that echoes also "Trespass" of Genesis. I'd never heard anything more similar than this. If you're a fan of Genesis of the Peter Gabriel you'll love this. Mike Keneally piano playing is absolutely breathtaking in this well recorded album. Sounds of Soft Machine harmonies from "Soft's" or "Bundles" echo in the walls of our memories. "2001" is an almost pop song, the chorus is reminiscent of Beach Boys harmonies, but the playing is much mroe relaxed. There's a good, even if not enthusiastic, atmosphere. The little guitar solo is so sparse and shy that we almost don't recognize Keneally. "New England" is an excelent instrumental, only with acoustic guitars and bass. With "Nanny-Ass Crow" we arrive at the "normal" Keneally world. It starts with a Gentle Giant kind of melody and the some great singing with doubling voices over an arrangement of saxophones, absolutely beautiful. "Dee 'n' A" starts on the acoustic guitar with a nice riff and a double recording of guitars until they are replaced by some background percussion with piano. Mike Keneally extends is feelings here. We feel as if the record is achieving its main goal. The ideas flow one after the other with musicality, nothing seems forced. Looped guitar leads then into the long guitar solo where we can hear the band leading Keneally into a controled frenzy (as Zappa would say). "Boom" is just a little melody with piano and nice vocals with a frog background. "5 legs" feels like Zappa from "200 Motels" enters the record to make more theatrical, the sung/talked melody makes it vibrate, although the acoustic guitars and slide makes us feel more at easy. On "Father's Day" Mike achieves a level of lyricism with his guitar solo and the basic riff that makes us think of the more harsh arrangements nad more dramatic movements. "Pantomime" is one of my favourite pieces of this beautiful recording, Piano and acoustic guitar. Keneally overdubbing, sounding Gentle Giant alone. The real Gentle Giant. "Machupicchu" is a kind of low profile song that is song common on Keneally catalogue. It looks the music is nothing, but as we listen closely we are instantly atracted to this sensitive way of composing. On "Wooden Smoke" it looks like Mike is trying to get us to understand that his record "it meant that they could give his best - but that was what was needed". It is an astonishing record. An excellent addition to any prog rock collection.
Megaphone of Destiny | 4/5 |

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