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Bozzio & Sheehan - Nine Short Films CD (album) cover


Bozzio & Sheehan

Progressive Metal

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3 stars I find it very hard to compile my thoughts about this album in a single review. What is certain about this is that it needs a vast number of spins to get into it, gather your conclusions, still not being able to produce a proper review. I will try to be as objective as I can and as far as the album itself allows me.

I believe that references are not needed for Terry Bozzio and Billy Sheehan, who both in their careers have achieved great things, performing with some of the biggest names in the rock/metal scene. What is also unarguable is the level of the virtuosity these two can present, solo or within projects. The result of their co-operation is not exactly a tech-prog metal album, but a dark fusion rock/metal record, primarily based in its obscure atmosphere where KING CRIMSON are everywhere. in the bass tunes, the vocals, the lyrics, the keyboards. This is actually the only major influence I reckon, and I am unsure of how effectively it works out.

There is a standard motif through the whole album with little exceptions: A mid-tempo beat, built around the rhythm-section (as expected). What makes this effort really obscure, is the way that Bozzio narrates, in a mysterious theatrical tone, - rather than sings - his own poetry. Yes, exactly as you heard, Bozzio is doing the 'vocals' on this record, and his lyrics speak about fear, violence, crime and death i.e. a perfect tool to communicate this bizarre KING CRIMSON atmosphere. Synth guitars performed by Sheehan add much to this feeling. Both seem in excellent form, producing some of the most innovative bass and drum fusion tunes you can ever experience.

What then can go wrong? I believe that this album is for a 'fine' taste, for just a small group of music - even within prog - fans, and not for every listener. There are moments in here that might highly excite you and others that may bore you dramatically or irritate you due to 'extreme virtuosity'. I found myself enjoying instrumental parts, and still not all of them. My favourite track is probably Edge of a Circle, being a bit different from the rest, with a 'Satriani' vibe and a great short guitar solo (!) by Sheehan. I was particularly astounded by some of his tunes but I am probably still not convinced of the vocals, and the way that Bozzio tries to get his meaning through. However, this album will have a place in my CD player from time to time.

This could easily be a love-or-hate effort for most of the listeners. As for me, I told you I would try to be as objective as I can.

Report this review (#155534)
Posted Saturday, December 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Gunn/Mastelotto-era King Crimson is the main influence here. Think The ConstruKction of Light: Cold synths, heavy, knotty rhythms, battering-ram drums, and a tense, industrial atmosphere. What's missing is the schizophrenic quirkiness - this record is extremely focused, and really does play like a series of short, intense movies that revolve around short, intense plots. In fact, though, the King Crimson influence turns out to be a superficial one - this album has a completely different mindset than the band or any of its side projects. The closest reference would be Trey Gunn's solo albums (perhaps Music for Pictures in particular), but I hesitate to say even that.

Nine Short Films basically consists in a series of very complex, repetitive drum and bass rhythms with a lot of odd times and a few shifts (either subtle or jarring, depending on what they're going for). The rhythmic base provides the groundwork for the keys and guitars to go off and do their thing, and they usually set to work creating a menacing atmosphere - sort of like if Faust composed their music very tightly. What ties this all together and moves the story along is Terry Bozzio's narration, which like the underlying music is very rhythmic and tense. Unlike the instrumental rhythms, however, which are either extremely busy or played at a frantic pace, Bozzio's vocals are steady and deliberate, which lends an odd tension to the whole experience. I've seen complaints that Bozzio is not a singer and therefore that he should have either closed his mouth or hired a "real vocalist" to do the job - but comments like these utterly miss the point, I think: there is no singing on this album, and I cannot honestly say that Bozzio does anything less than a superb job pioneering this new vocal style, whatever you want to call it. Kudos to him for both having the idea and pulling it off. In between the narrative sections, there are some instrumentals dispersed here and there, all of which are a breath of fresh air, and as you would imagine from this guys, pretty weird and exciting, too (moreover, since there aren't too many of them, none of them come off as superfluous or noodly).

So, what are well left with? I'm not sure. The metallic modern prog influences are all there, but excepting the solo sections, that's not what the music ends up sounding like because of the way it's written. Parts of it sound like a more sophisticated type of drum n' bass music (the electronic kind) gone mad, and there are possibly even some similarities with hip-hop (?!) lurking around. The narrative aspect of the music, meanwhile, has no real parallel that I'm aware of. In short, this album is a strange bird, and I'd rather let it speak for itself than go on with more pointless comparisons.

I've never really heard anything like this before, and I doubt I ever will again. The formula is intriguing - I have no doubt that an excellent niche genre could be created around it, but there's probably not enough of an audience for that. (Although I must say that Tony Levin's Slow Glide, off of his Stick Man album, would fit comfortably on this record. He likely listened to this album and enjoyed it - the influence is unsurprising, given that these guys run in the same circles) If you are a fan of King Crimson, or are looking for something utterly unique to sink your teeth into, listen to this album. Moreover, listen to it several times. Even if you end up not liking it, it's too interesting to pass up.

Report this review (#768403)
Posted Saturday, June 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Nine short films is the one and only album released in 2002 by the two famouses musicians in last 35 years Terry Bozzio (Frank Zappa, UK, Bozzio-Levin-Stevens, etc) on drums and bassist Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, Niacin, Planet X, Steve Vai, etc). They join forces for this album as Bozzio & Sheehan. Well, this album is hard to rate, to review and for sure is hard to listen. I needed lots of spins to get into the music offered by this album, sometimes is to experimental for my style. Clearly as inspiration is King Crimson, lots of intricate parts with jazzy show off and prog passages, but all melted in a quite strange atmosphere, with let's say bizzare arrangements. The musicinship is of course top notch, the main problem is that the album for me, is too experimental and schizophrenic quirky to rated more then 3 stars. Also I really don't like the narration Bozzio is doing here, it has a theatrical aproach that don't fit here, IMO. All pieces are to my ears, ok, nothing more. So, I prefer both musicians in other projects or bands such as UK, Niacin , etc. I've listning I guess 5-6 times to get into the music of Nine short films and I think was enough for the next 20 years.

Report this review (#1195847)
Posted Thursday, June 19, 2014 | Review Permalink

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