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Johannes Luley - Qitara CD (album) cover


Johannes Luley

Crossover Prog

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kev rowland
Crossover Team
5 stars Sometime approximately a million years ago, Johannes contacted me to let me know about his band Moth Vellum. These days he is probably more well-known for being in Perfect Beings, but somehow he has also found time to release his second solo album only five years after the first. Now, I was a big fan of that when it was released, so was intrigued to hear what the new one was going to be like, so somehow managed to delete the files he sent me and it was only months later that I realised that I hadn't reviewed the album back in October when I meant to! So, here we are on the last day of March, and I am finally sitting down to put some words against what this album actually means.

This is a long way from what I would normally expect to hear from Johannes, either solo or in a band format, as here he has gone back to his roots, as apparently he grew up with the Canterbury sound. His father, an avid jazz lover, turned him on to George Duke and John Abercrombie, and these two heroes of Johannes' are honoured with the cover tracks "Faces in Reflection" and "Red and Orange". Again, this album is mostly instrumental, but there are some vocals, which do include one Ryan Downe, so two members of Moth Vellum are back together again. This is an album that has been heavily influenced by fusion, and also world music, so much so that one never knows what the next track is going to bring. This is a real voyage, as one moves through the music with Johannes as a guide, sometimes playing acoustic, sometimes electric, sometimes driving the music forward and sometimes letting the brass take the lead. This is incredibly eclectic, yet it all somehow makes sense as well. It is one of the most deep, reflective, and energising albums I have been lucky enough to come across, and yet again shows what an incredible force he can be.

I doubt that very few will be lucky enough to come across this album, but those who are that fortunate will all agree that this a real gem, something very special indeed.

Report this review (#1910559)
Posted Saturday, March 31, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album really surprised me. I know of Johannes Luley's work in Moth Vellum, whose one and only album shows a lot of Yes and Steve Howe influences as well as some eighties pop. This album sounds nothing like it.

I have his solo album, 'Tales from Sheepfather's Grove' which sounds very much inspired by Jon Anderson's 'Olias of Sunhillow'. Except for some of the acoustic guitar tracks, this album sounds nothing like it.

I have all three Perfect Beings albums, and though there are some parts on this album that could have been considered for inclusion in Perfect Beings' music, this album honestly sounds nothing like it.

The album is said to be a jazz album and there's even a review on a jazz music web site. This shouldn't be surprising as Johannes was trained by a famous Dutch jazz guitarist. The surprise should be that it took him this long to record and release a jazz album.

At first, though, the jazz is not quite so apparent. The opening track, 'The Doer', captivates with some acoustic guitar before changing into a tense rocker with some excellent lead work by Johannes. This track alone is unlike anything heard on other Johannes Luley albums. Perhaps only a track or two from 'Perfect Beings II' comes even close to rocking out this hard. But then the track closes out with something vaguely reminiscent of something from a Steve Vai album with a melodic guitar synthesizer solo (okay, it might not be a guitar synthesizer but it does remind me of Steve Vai).

The second track, 'Upness' is where the jazz reveals itself and includes great solos on guitar ' both acoustic and electric, organ, and trumpet. But the opening doesn't sound jazzy at all and once again most closely resembles a Perfect Beings track.

The album includes two more mostly acoustic guitar tracks and only one vocal track with 'Sister Six' which to my ears takes us closest to Moth Vellum. It is a peaceful and moving song that has a flow like waves.

After this, the jazz theme sets in a little more obviously in some of the tracks, though there is some pretty wild, experimental guitar and some very energetic prog in tracks like 'Red and Orange', 'Hot Sands' and 'Agni Rahasya'.

My overall impression of this album is that Johannes Luley must have set out to record an album with a little more force and hard-hitting music than what he usually puts out with his other bands. Of course there are more gentle and laid back pieces, but it's the contrast of the faster, hard-hitting music that makes one appreciate that Mr. Luley has the talent and ability to play beyond what he normally gives us.

I guess the biggest surprise is that as a solo album, this one is so different from his previous offering, 'Tales from Sheepfather's Grove'. This album has tension, weight, force, and suspense. For me, this is one of those albums I probably never would have known about had it not been for the fact that I like all that I have heard from Johannes so far. It's a very pleasant surprise and I'm thrilled to have it in my collection.

Report this review (#2054606)
Posted Saturday, November 10, 2018 | Review Permalink

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