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California Guitar Trio - Invitation CD (album) cover


California Guitar Trio


Crossover Prog

3.94 | 23 ratings

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Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars The California Guitar Trio consists of (like the name suggests) three former members of Robert Fripp's group of Crafty Guitarists, but (not like the name suggests) none of them are from California. There style of playing uses Fripp's New Standard Tuning which is an alternative tuning for guitars that changes the strings to perfect fifth intervals and thirds. This actually allows guitarists to have a wider range and makes it possible to play works which were previously impossible because of the extreme high or low notes, mostly classical pieces written for piano or other keyboard instruments.

This trio uses Fripp's methods, but do it in more of an accessible fashion than Fripp or the Crafty Guitarists did, thus attempting to reach a wider audience. The fact that the tracks on the album are quite varied in style, the album's purpose was to reach as many listeners as possible. But, I enjoy every track here and the fact that there is a variation of style keeps the album from getting stale or boring. The original pieces in my opinion are the best ones, but the covers are quite interesting and impressive also.

This album is great in that it offers quite a wide variety of songs, some original and some covers, and it shows the versatility of these players, but also shows the capacity of the tuning practice that Fripp used quite extensively, even in King Crimson. The first track, "Train to Lemy Pts. 1 - 3, starts out using electric guitar and it throws one off kilter a bit until the melody gets going and your ears adjust. As it flows into the 2nd part, you get more of a feel of what most of the album will be like, more of an acoustic endeavor, but not completely. All 3 parts are quite different and immediately you see the versatility of these amazing musicians. The next track is another original and combines the tuning technique with a sound scape background quite similar to Frippertronics, but more drone sounding. It is quite an amazing piece and very progressive. The next track is the famous Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor which is traditionally played by an organ. It's pretty amazing that the composition can be played on guitars with the tuning method, but the impact of the work is not as impressive or emotional as the organ. It's still quite amazing though. Continuing on, the next track is a composition from avant garde minimalist composer Part and the track remains minimalistic, but holds a special beauty and creates quite a nice rendition.

The rest of the album follows in this formula mixing more classics, a popular soundtrack song (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly), a surf rock piece (Apache), more original numbers and so on. Some times the songs work beautifully and other times they are still good, but somewhat standard. Again, my favorites are the originals, but it's fun to hear the covers also to keep things varied and interesting.

This album runs the gamut of many styles and showcases the talents of the instrumentalists and also the genius of Fripp. The orginal compositions get 5 stars, and the covers get 4 to 4.5, but I'll give the album 4 stars because, except for a few tracks, it is mostly not progressive music. Still, it is highly enjoyable and should be heard by guitarists and enthusiasts everywhere.

TCat | 4/5 |


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