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Adrian Belew

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Adrian Belew Experimental Guitar Series Vol. 1 - The Guitar As Orchestra album cover
2.65 | 23 ratings | 3 reviews | 4% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1995

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Score With No Film (3:23)
2. Portrait of the Guitarist (7:22)
3. Piano Recital (1:42)
4. Laurence Harvey's Despair (2:48)
5. Piano Ballet (3:35)
6. Rings Around the Moon (3:55)
7. Seven E Flat Elephants Eating the Acacia of a C# Minor Forest (7:20)
8. If Only... (5:06)
9. Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train" Starring Robert Walker (9:44)
10. Finale (5:35)

Total Time 50:30

Line-up / Musicians

- Adrian Belew / electric guitar, Roland GR1,GR50 & GR700 guitar synths, Korg A3 guitar processor, Roland 330 delay, Midi Mitigator, Valley 730 digital compressor, producer

Releases information

10 modern classical pieces composed and performed entirely on electric guitar by Belew

Artwork: Noah Evens

CD Adrian Belew Presents ‎- ABP 7522-2 (1995, US)

Thanks to AndYouAndI for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ADRIAN BELEW Experimental Guitar Series Vol. 1 - The Guitar As Orchestra ratings distribution

(23 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(4%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(4%)
Good, but non-essential (48%)
Collectors/fans only (35%)
Poor. Only for completionists (9%)

ADRIAN BELEW Experimental Guitar Series Vol. 1 - The Guitar As Orchestra reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A bit of an odd release from Adrian Belew. By far one of his most "progressive" albums is this, where he essentially fiddles around with his guitar synthesizer (using the orchestra sound effect that can be heard on Dinosaur as well as a piano effect). It's an interesting concept, but does he pull it off well? Well, to be honest, it's a decent album, it has some nice moments, but I think it's a similar case to that of Zappa's Jazz from Hell where it was too "I'm going to play around with my new toy" and not enough solid songwriting can be heard. At least Jazz from Hell had some differences in sound, this album sounds very samey. However, despite these faults I think that The Guitar as Orchestra can be an interesting album.

I'm fond of the later pieces on the album, such as Seven E Flat Elephants Eating the Acacia of a C# Minor Forest, which is one of the longer songs and one of the most captivating musically. The same can be said about the anxious and nervous atmospheres conveyed in Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train" Starring Robert Walker, which sounds as if it could have been in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. The rest of the album is hit or miss, but for the most part you'll find interesting compositions here and there and some mindless noodling in the spaces between.

While not his best album, The Guitar As Orchestra is an interesting album to say the least. Adrian Belew's follow-up studio effort (after the Acoustic Adrian Belew) would be his best album of the 90s and a real return to form. I talk about of course one of his most experimental albums, Op Zop Too Wah. I can only really recommend this album to fans of Belew. A good album overall, but not essential to your collection.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars For those who love experimental .

It's quite odd on two dimensions: first, I know the kind of music Adrian Belew plays in his solo album but this one is very different with others that I had been familiar with, musically. Second, usually guitar is used as soloist or some melody line or as fills, but this time is different: as background music, or so to say as an orchestra as the album title. This album would favor those who can appreciate experimentations in music. Even for those who really want to seriously observe the music it its subtleties. Because what presented here sounds like a loose-form music demonstrating instrument solo with some avant-garde as well as classical music style.

I think Adrian is quite humorous when he made his opening title as "Score With No Film" (3:23) which indeed the music is similar to movie score. The fact that this creation had no film which accompanied by this song makes this title unique. "Portrait of the Guitarist" (7:22) is a piano based composition with guitar as orchestra. From track to track I can sense that almost all songs performed here are associated with a certain film, or if you want to categorize it into music style, I would consider this as an original soundtrack film, in general.

I would only recommend this album for those who love avant-garde or music score record. Otherwise, you would not enjoy this album.

Peace on earth and mercy mild, GW

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars This interesting album is a way of showing just how the electric guitar can be a multi-dimensional instrument. All of the compositions on this album are written by Adrian Belew and they are written as modern-classical pieces written for orchestra and, from what I hear on this album, a lot of piano. Belew uses his many toys to help arrive at the sounds that are on this album, toys like guitar synthesizers, processors, digital compressors and whatnot.

Many times on this album, you could almost swear you are listening to orchestra and not just guitar. But the main instrument that is mimicked here is the piano. You could swear that it is a piano, except the sound does have that somewhat processed feel, so it's not quite perfect in it's mimickry. Yet, the album is still amazing when you think all of the sounds are performed by an electric guitar. Some reviewers claim that the music is too similar sounding to be enjoyable, but I don't get that. Instead, to me, it is quite a mix of textures and sounds that sometimes come off quite beautifully, while at other times it can also be a bit off-putting. I don't expect everyone to get a lot of enjoyment out of it, though, as the tracks are more classically based as hinted at by the description of the album.

Now, being a classical style album, keep in mind also that the music is more of a contemporary classical meaning that it is not so much built around melodies as much as it is textures and abstract expression, more along the lines of "Frank Zappa style" classical music. However, the music is also not "synclavier" music as is the case with some of Zappa's classical music, but it is quite a bit warmer than this with more of a variety in sound, but comparing it to Zappa's style, you might get a clearer picture of what to expect.

Some tracks are more interesting than others, namely "Laurence Harvey's Despair", the 7+ minute humorous "Seven E Flat Elephants....", the mysterious and spooky strains of "If Only..." and the lovely, orchestral "Alfred Hitchcock's 'Strangers on a Train' " which could easily be thought of as a soundtrack from a high suspense movie.

The biggest weakness of the album is the apparent lack of dynamics, which may be a bit hard to obtain with the tools that Belew has to work with. This is also a problem with Zappa's synclavier albums. But, like I mentioned earlier, this is a much warmer sound than Zappa's synclavier pieces, and that may make it more tolerable. It's going to be tough for many to listen to this, however, and it can be one that you may only come back to once in a while. The only time I find myself re-playing it is when I feel like being amazed at what can be done with instruments and technology. It would be interesting hearing these tracks played with the real instruments and a real orchestra, but, for now, we have this. It's good, but will probably only appeal to those that understand instruments and technology. Otherwise, it's a bit hard to listen to as entertainment.

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