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Adrian Belew - Adrian Belew Power Trio: E CD (album) cover


Adrian Belew


Eclectic Prog

4.23 | 49 ratings

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5 stars Adrian Belew formed a group to perform and record music that could be grouped apart from his solo works. This group was called 'Adrian Belew Power Trio' and consisted of Belew on guitar, Julie Slick on bass and her brother Eric Slick on drums. Belew was impressed after seeing them perform with the Paul Green School of Rock and formed the trio for the purpose of touring and performing his solo material along with King Crimson and Frank Zappa material.

The album that is simply entitled 'e' is the project's first album and was released in 2008. The album has 11 tracks, but is actually made up of 5 mini-suites, each one named after each of the first 5 letters of the alphabet. The music is created by adding layers of loops playing over each other, and then adding parts and solos over the top of the loops. The album itself was made live while in the studio.

'a' starts off the album and is a 3-part suite that makes up the first three tracks. The first part is a quick guitar solo at moderate speed, but the 2nd part brings in the entire trio with the layers soon kicking in and quickly sounding very cool and experimental, not unlike King Crimson, yet definitely unique. All 3 performers are quite amazing, Julie plays a tricky desending bass riff that starts and stops its descent in unpredictably, but constantly moving while the drums play complex rhythms that are also completely astounding while Belew plays his quirky, sometimes harsh, but always intriguing style. Rest assured that if you are afraid this sounds more like the less-accessible Projekcts from King Crimson, then you have nothing to worry about. It is more of a style inbetween the Crimson most people know and love and the experimental side of Belew. The 3rd part continues on falling into a more of a pattern, with Belew's improvisation swinging, groaning and sailing over the amazing support work of the Slick siblings.

'b' is also made up of 3-parts, the first part being almost longer in and of itself than the preceding suite. This one is a bit chunkier with a hard riff and contrasting guitar layers. Underneath it all, the amazing bass flies around performing tricks that are almost as crazy as Belew's own playing. The Slick's were both quite young when they started out, Eric only being 11 when he was brought in as the regular drummer for the Paul Green School of Rock, and Julie was only 13 when she started playing bass, quickly becoming an amazing bassist. Just listen to this and you'll understand how awesome they are, then consider the fact that they are doing this live-in-studio. This suite pounds along quite impressively for a while, but in the 2nd part, it becomes more laid back, but with guitar notes cascading down from the stars, but soon the music builds tension as Belew throws in some of his phrasing, connecting his notes almost like a steel guitar and making them wail against the repeated notes that build tension atmospherically, and then ending with a rapid fire track that has each instrument playing counterpoint while the drums show off a bit themselves.

'c' is only a single part, but lasts over 6 minutes. The percussion on this one is a little more regular and steady while the guitar and bass slowly build becoming more intense as the track rolls on. 'd' is divided up between 2 tracks. It starts off with layers of Belew's playing along with a repeating subdued staccato playing underneath. Stylistic and almost symphonic sounding percussion comes through intermittedly, but halfway through, it everyone kicks in creating a complex and exciting sound, again intense and heavy. Belew has expressed that he would love to hear this music performed by an orchestra, and upon listening to this and the complex lines, it is easy to see why that would be an intriguing idea. After a section where the guitar almost sounds like a flute, the 2nd part returns to a more linear sound, but builds even quicker, almost becoming like a condensed version of the first part. 'e' is also divided up into 2 parts, the 1st one being rather quick at under 1 minute and featuring Belew improvising pensively and the 2nd part being over 7 minutes. The 2nd part sounds like a syncopated chromatic scale ascending and desending quickly, the drums push it along and then the bass is forced in. A melodic line is played where the guitar sounds more like a synth, and then the trio plays off of the ascending and desending scale, improvising and creating quite a cavalcade of thematic elements and using them against each other, most of these done from Belew's layering, while the bass and drums even get some time to show off. The coolest thing is the piano-sounding line pounding and twinkling along while the bass thrums out a rhythmic pattern. Very cool.

In 2010, Eric was recruited by the band 'Dr. Dog' and is still the drummer for them, and Julie later released some solo work and also participated in the 'Crimson ProjeKct' tour, Marco Minnemann replaced Eric temporarily for the 2010 tours, and then Tobias Ralph took over as a permanent member of the band. Fortunately, we have this recorded document that attests to the talents of Adrian, Julie and Eric, but it is a shame that it has mostly been ignored, especially from the King Crimson and Projekcts crowds, because this music is just as amazing as anything else put out by the different KC incarnations at the time. Highly experimental, but surprisingly very enjoyable and more accessible than you might think. It is all instrumental, but it is music of the highest caliber and deserves to be considered one of the best KC albums that isn't a KC album. After hearing this, you know why both Zappa and Fripp brought Belew into their bands. Highly recommended for real KC lovers, Eclectic Prog lovers and those that love excellent and innovative guitar music.

TCat | 5/5 |


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