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Glorious Wolf - Zodiac CD (album) cover

ZODIAC

Glorious Wolf

 

Crossover Prog

3.41 | 7 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Glorious Wolf is a project by Dutch artist and multi-instrumentalist Ruud Dielen, and Zodiac is his current release which he kindly asked me to review. The bass is prominent throughout , a fact that pleases this listener immediately, so the foundation is definitely hopeful. Bursting from the gate is the whopping ''Constellations'' , a cosmic 11 minute ride that oozes along with a definite Floydian feel, guest singer Oscar Anema even sounding like Waters when singing, though the vocal prowess is not in the main spotlight here. The lead electric guitar playing is impressive and even spectacular at times, shepherded along by a stunning sax solo from guest Andre van de Ven. An inspiring opening voyage that will please many fans of cosmic prog.

''Close to the New World'' is gentler beat, suddenly evolving into a brasher realm, between acoustic guitar sections and harsher Tom Scholz-like (he of Boston fame) riffs but the vocals are just not powerful enough to grab you by the scruff, needing a bolder, rockier tone, in my opinion. On the other hand, the instrumental palette is wholly interesting , even I daresay, captivating.

The title track offers a murkier platform, loopy and intricate, booming bass front and center, mellotron surges, as well as creative guitar phrasings. Again, the vocals seem dull in comparison, almost dissonant at times, perhaps a vocalist like Peter Gabriel or John Wetton could have made a greater impression, as this does have Genesis meets King Crimson feel to it. The music is stellar and should have stayed voiceless.

''Poets'' offers up some delicate acoustic guitar strumming, as well as a new vocalist, competent but somehow still not 'on', it's weird hearing the perceptible disconnect between the instrumentation and the vocal/lyrics. Ruud is highly talented though and its obvious pretty much throughout this album. His guitar, bass and keyboard technique is flawless.

Displaying his bluesier style, ''Feeling Blue'' is a top-notch moment, with a classic slow-hand guitar display, rumbling organ and smooth rhythmic pulse. The voice actually is quite suited to the music, being husky and convincingly agonized , loaded up with synthesizer swells that give it a nice symphonic sheen. The tortured axe solo is first rate, dizzyingly electric. Yes, I like a lot !

An album highlight is the all-instrumental center piece ''For You and I'' where Ruud shines like a crazy diamond, powerful and majestic. This track has a sweet rolling feel, loaded up with screeching guitar workouts that clearly show a more Carlos Santana-feel, slippery synth forays and a sizzling presentation engorged in feeling and bravado. Very nice!

Not a big fan of ''The Game'' , a more generic (read non-prog) diversion, armed with another jerky vocal that does sound like Mark Knopfler but less successful in the compositional end. The soaring guitar solo is first rate though (seems to be a leitmotiv here) , full of guts and sensibility. The track bridges a voice effects section that relates to the current political garbage we live in, then morphing into a tough on the ears finale that does not work well in my opinion because of the poor vocals.

The final two instrumental tracks are re-workings of previously released ditties that close of the album on positive notes as they are devoid of any distractions . In fact, on ''Questions'' there are some intricate neo jazz-rock noodlings that ring convincingly, Ruud bending notes on his fretboard as if he was listening to Jeff Beck all his life, a magnificent display of guitar pyrotechnical restraint.

''Aquarius'' is joyfully complex, bouncy and experimental, pushed along by a punchy bass coughing with flair, peppered by guitar pirouettes that turn on a dime, a slide foray that is quite the ride. This is right down prog alley and is sheer musical succulence.

Ruud is very talented indeed, one can here references to classic guitar heroes (Gilmour, Santana, Beck, Jan Akkerman, Tom Scholz, Gary Moore and James Young of Styx). I would recommend sticking to what he does best, instrumental soundscapes that would underline his obvious talent and his undisputed technical mastery. Finally , the artwork, production, booklet and sound are all first-rate.

Dank u wel !

4 inflatable canoes

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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