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Alex Ward


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Alex Ward Gated album cover
4.00 | 3 ratings | 2 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2021

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Heat Patch (2:05)
2. The Celebrated Restriction (3:25)
3. Let (6:27)
4. Buyout (5:23)
5. Hewn (18:23)
6. Stilled (5:20)
7. Cushioned (14:38)
8. Brow (4:28)
9. The Bradford Factor (2:49)
10. Maybe It'll Break the Heat (10:40)

Total Time 73:38

Line-up / Musicians

- Alex Ward / all instruments and programming

Releases information

CD Discus Music 114 CD (UK, July 13, 2021)

Thanks to Mirakaze for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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ALEX WARD Gated ratings distribution

(3 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(100%)
Good, but non-essential (0%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ALEX WARD Gated reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Mirakaze
COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Alex Ward has never been one to make friendliness to the general listener a priority and Gated is no exception to this. The first track lets one know right away what they're in for as it drops them head-first in a fast-paced, dissonant and syncopated heavy guitar and woodwinds riff interspersed with frenetic atonal clarinet and guitar solos. While the drums are all programmed, Ward plays every other instrument by himself and proves himself a virtuoso at all of them. It is the cherry on top of an album that runs the gamut from harsh math/noise rock to free jazz.

Actually, my main criticism of this album is that the opener "Heat Patch" lasts only two minutes and the album doesn't really reach the same height afterwards, but that doesn't mean it's ever bad. On the contrary: "The Celebrated Restriction" and "The Bradford Factor" follow very much in the same vein but are instead centred on electric guitar and electric piano, respectively. These are both highly complex, professionally written compositions that won't appeal to listeners looking for recognizable melodies to hold on to but will certainly find an audience among those who wish to discover something new every other time they listen to something they've already heard before. "Buyout" is guitar-focussed again but is more of a minimalist rhythm study, again bringing comparisons to heavier math rock acts like Wyxz or Guapo to mind. Another true highlight that represents quite a different side of Ward's musical personality is the stately, arrhythmic "Let", a dissonant and unnerving avant-jazz composition for a septet of bass, percussion and woodwinds, which has a very cool chamber prog vibe.

I must admit to not personally caring for every part of the album, and it is unfortunate in this respect that my favourite song on the album happens to be the shortest while the lengthiest track ? "Hewn", an 18-minute noise collage of guitar feedback and vicious percussion assaults that kind of overstays its welcome for me ? happens to be the one that I could do the most without. I find the other two lengthy tracks more preferable: the album closer "Maybe It'll Break The Heat" is another guitar-led drone which has a simpler structure than "Hewn" but feels a lot more cathartic despite the lack of percussion, and "Cushioned" is a free improvisation that manages to stay intriguing throughout its 14 minutes. Free improv was what Mr. Ward started his musical career with after all, and he pays homage to the practice again on the ominous "Stilled", which sounds like a dark ambient theme with a reverberated clarinet roaring over it in the distance. In all, Gated is a fascinating tour de force for prog, jazz and math rock fans with trained ears and special tastes.

Review by nick_h_nz
COLLABORATOR Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars [Originally published as a mini-review at The Progressive Aspect]

Holy hell, what a glorious cacophony! Apart from programmed drums, Alex Ward plays every instrument on Gated (including clarinets, saxophones, guitars, keyboards, and bass) and almost in competition with each other. Everything clashes and collides wonderfully in an aural assault that you'll likely either love or hate. Obviously, I love it, and you'll know within seconds whether you do too. It doesn't even pretend to ease the listener in gently, so from the first notes of the short and spirited Heat Patch, you'll know where you stand (or run). Alex Ward is a one man, avant, chamber, free-jazz, dark ambient, noise, and math rock band, taking elements of all these styles while never really sounding totally like any one of them.

After a bruising and battering two track combo, Let allows some respite, though how much is arguable. This third track is quieter and slower-paced, but that doesn't necessarily make it easier listening. Chinese water torture is also quiet and slow-paced? But again, beauty is in the eye (or, in this case, ear) of the beholder. I have no doubt that Let will be too much for some listeners, but I love it! It's a dissonant and unnerving highlight of the album. Buyout brings back the heavy math sound after the more chamber prog Let, before the longest (and probably most Marmite) track, the magnificent Hewn. This 18-minute assault takes no prisoners, and may well be too much even for those who enjoy the rest of the album. Somehow, it doesn't outstay its welcome, so if you manage to make it through, say, the first four minutes, chances are you'll enjoy the remaining fourteen.

If you've made it to the other side of Hewn, you'll surely be ready and raring for more, and Alex Ward has you covered, as you're only halfway through Gated, and there is plenty more pleasure and pain to come. Stilled is a refreshing and subtle slice of sorbet to cleanse the palate, discordant, but in a minimalist manner. The clarinet of disquiet is employed, but quietly so. All in all, this is a quite beautiful track, whose impact is only greater after what preceded it. The sequencing of Gated is superb, like a roller coaster designed to ensure every twist and dip can be enjoyed to its full potential. Cushioned is another piece of free improvisation, but this time in a jazzy rather than ambient vein. Perhaps the most accessible track on the album, but being positioned where it is makes this factor rather irrelevant. Anyone who has made it this far is long past caring about accessibility. But for those who have, Cushioned will surely be another highlight.

And, really, I'm not sure why I'm still writing. As per the introductory paragraph, you'll either love Gated, or hate it. So listen to the opening track and see how you feel?

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