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Stephan Thelen - Fractal Guitar CD (album) cover


Stephan Thelen



3.99 | 47 ratings

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4 stars The SONAR leader and King Crimson-style Math Rock champion is back with yet another solo effort with an all-star array of guest musicians.

1. "Briefing For A Descent Into Hell" (18:35) could have come from Stephan's other project, SONAR, and their 2018 album Vortex, especially as there are three of the five members of that album on this song. Interesting, cool, just not memorable for anything new or distinctive--though there are many moments in which I feel as if I'm more immersed into a piece by CAN or KLAUS SCHULZE. One bull-headed pace and foundation over 18 minutes with lots of interesting displays of creativity over the top as solos. Somehow it works as I find this to be the song I return to most of all when I want to re-test this album. (36/40)

2. "Road Movie" (13:23) another SONAR-like foundation from the rhythm section as Henry Kaiser takes a turn competing with Stephan. Flags a little in the second half. (25.5/30)

3. "Fractal Guitar" (9:20) opening with infinitely echoed and morphed solo electric guitar, the sound journey is fascinating in itself. Yet another SONAR-like foundation is added by the rhythm section at the end of the first minute--in an unusual time signature. The "guitar atmospheres" of Barry Cleveland are quite interesting--perhaps they are the sound "morphing" to which I referred in the opening sentence. Drums and percussion begin to add their own distinct personalities in the fourth minute. (17.5/20)

4. "Radiant Day" (8:42) a more KING CRIMSONian weave of electric stringed instruments opens this song. Markus Reuter, Matt Tate, and Barry Cleveland all weaving their touch guitars with Stephan's is quite interesting. The absence of atmospheric "glue" of washes and slow decay notes and chords is also interesting. It's like a stage full of guitarists each waiting patiently for their turn to solo. (16.75/20)

5. "Urban Nightscape" (17:34) opens with two lines of chromatic arpeggi backed by David Torn loops and washes. Bass line and drums eventually join in but it takes a few minutes until a solid flow and structure are settled upon. Benno Kaiser's drumming is much more noticeable than the hypnotic support style of Manuel Pasquinelli because he is imposing a mentality of a lead instrument. (He's good but not great.) It's David Torn who really shines in the thick and heavy section between the sixth and ninth minutes (though Benno does try). The music gradually moves to a stripped down, atmospheric section where, in the fifteenth and sixteenth minutes you feel as if night skies and bug noises are the sounds trying to be reproduced (or imagined). My least favorite song on the album. (29/35)

Total time 67:34

It is very difficult to fault Stephan Thelen with this type of music because it is so unique and unusual in the music world, but after an album or two, listened to consecutively, one begins to grow fatigued of the repetition of similitude.

B/four stars; a solid contribution of polished, mood-oriented Math Rock and excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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