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Shawn Lane - The Tri-Tone Fascination CD (album) cover


Shawn Lane


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.02 | 8 ratings

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3 stars Uneven Mix from the Fusion Shred Demigod

Shred guitar has come in and out of style several times since the invention of the electric guitar, and still boasts a devoted community worldwide. Few, if any, hold the exalted status among that group than Shawn Lane. His pick speed and hand synchronization are simply jaw-dropping. He can pick lines that require two hands even for the likes of Paul Gilbert. At a legendary gathering of Ibanez' fastest guns on stage (including Vai, Satriani, et al) Lane simply left the entire group aghast. Some of the players following him wouldn't even play. He was also a savant of sorts in multiple areas of expertise, having a habit of completely immersing himself in a subject without the light of day. His piano skills were nearly as amazing as his guitar skills. He certainly didn't have the look of a rock star, as long time steroid use for his psoriatic arthritis continually added weight until it was almost incapacitating by the time of his early death in 2003.

TRI TONE FASCINATION sounds like a collection of demos rather than a unified album. There are some great tracks such as "Minarets" and "Tri-75." The first is a fusion feast that would certainly please fans of Lane's work with Jonas Hellborg. The second is a more composed piece that is probably the "proggy" of the lot. The album's opening track, "Kaiser Nancarrow" contains some very dated electronica that for me is a bit of a head scratcher. "Art Tatum" also interweaves hip-hop??? keyboard moments and a badly programmed drum machine with some interesting piano comping and a blazing guitar run. "Peace in Mississippi" is Lane's take on long time love Hendrix. While I appreciate the notion, I'm not sure it adds anything to either Hendrix or Lane's legacy. "The Way It Has to Be" is one of the better Lane ballads. Seemingly simpler than it actually is, Lane brings his fine sense of phrasing and articulation to the forefront with some fireblazing flourishes over an odd rhythm and harmony. I actually enjoy Lane's version of this style of soft jazz than Allan Holdsworth's, though Chris Poland does it better.

But absolutely no one can play simultaneously as fast and tasteful as Lane. There are very very few who can match his speed at all, and every single one I've heard clearly has neither the depth of musical knowledge or expressive ability. Lane sounds like Eric Johnson at double speed. The others sound like computer simulations. Similarly, though Lane's compositions are beds for soloing, they are constructed with a jazz sensibility. Virtually all have clear melodic "heads" and a good sense off tension and release. None are simply vehicles for showing off.

Unfortunately, I don't know if there really is a perfect Shawn Lane album. So many discs have flashes, but many (especially this one) are really uneven. I think every guitar fanatic needs to have some of Lane's work in their music library, and there are least three songs on this album that would work well. All of it is pretty good fusion, and certainly the variety makes it easy to listen all the way through the album. But for newcomers, I'd look through Lane's work with Jonas Hellborg first.

Negoba | 3/5 |


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