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Allan Holdsworth - Sand CD (album) cover

SAND

Allan Holdsworth

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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The Owl
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars On the one hand, you have to give Allan a lot of credit for being technologically bold, , trying newly available technologies like the Synth-Axe and midi-modules, but at the same instance, I find this disc a rather daunting listen because it's SOOOOOOOOOOO ridiculously synth-heavy that it actually fatigues my ears after a certain period of time.

While certainly not lacking musical substance or great musicianship (the powerhouse team of drummer Gary Husband and ubermelodic bassist Jimmy Johnson, plus Chad Wackerman on some tracks drumming) it still suffers from a sonic sameness and cold, synthetic digital aura that unfortunately is typical of nearly ANY 80's recordings.

It takes some effort to listen past this but if one perseveres there are some gems for certain, '4:15 Bradford Executive" is the clear highpoint of this disc with its relentless train-like propulsive rhythms pulling you along. Allan's solo on here is a marvel to behold! The first 4 tracks are musically very rivh too but again, the synth overkill detracts from their beauty and depth to a noticeable degree as the listeners ears start crying out for organic sounds like REAL guitar for instance.

The only real lowpoint is the rather pointless mechanical "MAC MAN" that seems more like a cheesy demo for an early version of Macintosh computer msuc software than it does an actual song as such. Skip that one altogether.

This Owl wonders though, if these songs were reworked in more organic ways sonically of they could reveal their true depth and color. It might be a worthwhile undertaking methinks.

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Send comments to The Owl (BETA) | Report this review (#29428)
Posted Thursday, April 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
Dan Bobrowski
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This was the FIRST CD I ever bought. Really. At the time I owned Metal Fatigue, IOU, Road Games and Atavachron (Which I used to torture my ex-wife, she hated Holdsworth's music). That said, I appreciate Allan in many ways besides the obvious.

Sand is a journey of the mind. Of course, I feel this way about most of Allan's catelogue. I approached this album without "guitar god" in my mind. I went with composer, musician, martian as my base to listen from. I was and still am astounded by this album. "Why only three stars, Danbo?" some would ask. Well, for me, Allan's music is personal and I understand that not everyone can grasp the tones, notes and images Allan creates. For me it's great, essential. For others, I only hope they try it and, even more, I hope they "get it." Allan's music is not for the masses, at least in today's narrow minded music view. It's music that is an acquired taste and demands unusual concentration.

There are many highlights among this collection. Distance vs. Desire is wonderful and aptly fits it's title. Purely Synthaxe, with washes, sweeping chordal lines and flute-like soloing. It's among my favorite and most heart-felt Holdsworth tunes.

Clown is among the favorites of Allan's fans, as is Pud Wud. Strong statements of a new instrument struggling for a voice and acceptance of music fans. Allan wanted to be recognized for his compositions, not guitar greatness. The notes spark, flash and fire like a summer lightning storm, then swell, ebb and flow like an ocean tide. Each note is like a drop of rain on hot flesh, soothing and refreshing.

Try out All Night Wrong (bare and unadorned) or Metal Fatigue (guitar essential) then slip into the warm Sand. You may find some mental medication.

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Send comments to Dan Bobrowski (BETA) | Report this review (#29429)
Posted Saturday, August 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This release is often overlooked and overshadowed by the more popular and well known METAL FATIQUE and VELVET DARKNESS lps.But to my taste,this is my favorite ALAN HOLDSWORTH release.All of the music is instrumental fusion jams with a slight trace of pyschedelica thrown in for good measure!Easy to listen to and much smoother and more flowing than some of HOLDSWORTH's other efforts.Features the progressive jazz drummer CHAD WACKERMAN.My only complaint is that at just over 35 minutes this disc is over much too quickly!

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Send comments to bob x (BETA) | Report this review (#40411)
Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I always still amazed whenever I spin this album especially on the sound that if I do not read the sleeve I would say that is produced by keyboard' It is not because Allan mentioned that there was no keyboard and the like used in most of his albums and he called his keyboard sound-like guitar with synthaxe. Whatever - but the sound is truly like a keyboard sound. For example, track "sand" is opened with an ambient sound that sounds like a keyboard exploration. It leads then to a full music venture with the entrance oh Gary's drums. The music is characterized by synthaxe as soloist in medium tempo with jazzy style. "The 4.15 Bradford Executive" also starts with a combination of synthaxe and drums (this time is by Chad Wackerman). Even though this track is opened with relatively long repeated chords that sound bit boring but when the music changes its style with "conventional" Holdsworth guitar-playing it's become an interesting composition. Drum work is quite dynamics with many improvisational styles that make this track is a good one to enjoy even though the overall song sounds like disjointed segments.

As the name implies, "Mac Man" is a track about Mac Computer as Holdsworth brought in a musician John Endland to look after Mac Computer as part of the instruments used here. It starts with a combination of drum (Chad) and Mac Computer work through pre- programmed sounds / loop combined with Holdsworth's synthaxe. The overall music sounds like an industrial style with some electric drum sounds. "Pud Wody" is a good track with guest appearance by Allan Pasqua performing keyboard solo.

It's a good album from the guitar master that prog lover who can appreciate jazz rock fusion music should own a copy of it. Keep on proggin' .!

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#45865)
Posted Tuesday, September 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is a weird one. Sand was Allan Holdsworth's embrace of the new possibilities in artificial music and it spotlighted his use of the dreaded Synthaxe; foe to all good-thinking guitarists. The record is a terribly antiseptic, cold-sounding affair with much of the 'guitar' work played and processed through the aforementioned device from Hell. But it allowed Holdsworth to phrase more fluidly, much like a horn player does. This had been his goal, after all, to do on the guitar what Coltrane had done on the saxophone. And perhaps the material suffers for it. But it is also a really interesting take on modern fusion and contains some fascinating music. It's not all void of real instruments, either; Bassist Jimmy Johnson is the anchor of this session and keeps an otherwise gravity-defying set grounded, and Gary Husband and Chad Wackerman have some fun on actual drumsets. And considering *no* keyboards are used (except a single solo), it was quite a breakthrough and probably deserves a more prominent spot in modern progressive jazz history.

A tone vignette introduces the title, a dissonant and off-putting number that lurches and irritates. 'Distance vs. Desire' wanders off into a cybernetic haze and is painfully long, but some neat noises and bizarre chords brighten 'Pud Wud', Husband drumming up a storm in the face of this synthetic takeover and featuring a nimble lead from Allan. 'Clown' crunches open and bops to a queasy beat before putting us out of our misery with a delightful synth phrase in 'The 4.15 Bradford Executive' with its nutty drum sounds and vibrating guitar part, and a Mac computer is used on the silicone 'Mac Man', quite a novel proposition in 1987.

The record failed to thrill and didn't show this alien technology in the best light, and at 35 minutes is short and sweet. But the world had become a new place, and Sand was among the first of a few brave ventures into that unknown territory.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#137708)
Posted Tuesday, September 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is quite unusual for Holdsworth guitar sound fans, but it doesn't mean it's bad one. Main difference is there are only one full size classic Holdsworth's guitar composition ( "Pud Wud", with Alan Pasqua's great keyboards on it). All others are very experimental, and the listener will be surprised because many of them don't sound as guitar- based jazz-fusion at all.

The reason is Holdsworth uses Synthaxe guitar on this album. It is device combining usual electric guitar with breath controller and synthesizer. So, beside playing as with usual electric guitar, musician has the possibility to use it for getting unusual sounds as from sax or keyboards. So, in many compositions you can hear keyboards-like sound which in reality is a sound of Holdsworth guitar.

As a result, this album contains very different music, only part of which is fusion. Many other sounds and rhythm structures gave to the music more experimental character. Main problem for listener possibly is that being a highly experimental in sense of using new instrument technologies, too often music itself is placed on the second plan. And sometimes you will feel as you are listening a demonstration of new device abilities.

The musicians team are great, and Holsdsworth talent is used in his full , so album still became a nice work. Possibly, more attractive for new sound searchers, than for Holdsworth's guitar sound fans.

Not less than 3,5.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#269242)
Posted Tuesday, March 02, 2010 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
2 stars No oasis in sight

Following after the experimental Atavachron album, Sand is perhaps even more experimental. Like the previous album, Sand too is dominated by Holdsworth himself on guitar and SynthAxe (an instrument that is a mix between a guitar and a synthesiser) but unlike previous albums, Sand is entirely instrumental. It is thus a little bit less varied, but at the same time more coherent than the last album and also compared to the album that came after it, Secrets. Holdsworth is a great guitar player but he is not a very strong composer and most of his solo music comes off as mostly endless "noodling" and unfocused sonic experimentations with most songs being nothing but long guitar solos backed by drums, bass and some keyboards. There are, however, on Atavachron, Sand and Secrets some memorable passages that make these albums worthwhile for fans of Allan Holdsworth's unique and distinctive guitar sound. I find these albums listenable even if not particularly remarkable.

It is very difficult to single out particular tracks as they sound mostly the same, but Distance vs. Desire stands out as the least interesting of the bunch as it is totally inoffensive and quite boring. As I have said in previous reviews I have always enjoyed Holdsworth's playing best in a band environment, particularly when he was a member of UK in the late 70's with John Wetton, Eddie Jobson and Bill Bruford. Anyone looking for anything even remotely similar to the music he did with UK or more recently with K2, Allan Holdsworth's solo discography is not the place to look!

I can only recommend this album to fans and collectors of Holdsworth

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#270978)
Posted Wednesday, March 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Anyone who aspires to play the guitar, or believe they can, should hear this disc. One of the best and most inspired by Allan Holdsworth. There are two masterpieces, here. Clown, with mockery and sneer sad and comic buffoon of Fellini circus designed sinthaxe the mouth of the tip of notes played on the upbeat. A kind of Mona Lisa by Leonardo where you do not understand if she's laughing or crying. The other is Sand: a masterpiece of sweet melodies blown with the sinthguitar sustain: a feast which we all are invited to. Too bad for those who will not be (invited).

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Send comments to CorSard58 (BETA) | Report this review (#290411)
Posted Thursday, July 15, 2010 | Review Permalink

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