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Adrian Belew - Op Zop Too Wah CD (album) cover

OP ZOP TOO WAH

Adrian Belew

Eclectic Prog


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Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Ah, this is my favorite ADRIAN BELEW solo recording so far! He did this at home, and the result is a chaotic rapid fire of ideas bursting mercilessly towards the listener. Some of them grow as produced, ca. four minute songs, and the rest are presented as one minute rough sketches. There's a few beautiful pieces typical to Adrian included here, but I guess this CD is mostly for the fans of the experimental Adrian.

I haven't paid much attention to the lyrics, but I noticed these words from the first song: "The golden days of bow and drum", and after that "...the sound of lark". Does the "bow" stand for Cross, "drum" for Muir (or Bill), and "lark" for Larks' Tongues in Aspic? Well, perhaps not.

Report this review (#41646)
Posted Friday, August 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wonderful album from one of the most versatile musicians I'd ever heard. Awesome mixing of beatle-zappa-crimsonesque (how do you have all that together harmonically? well, ask Adrian!) sounds, very well executed. The clear voice of Belew transport listener to different states of mind. Highlights are Time Waits, Of Bow and Drums, All Her Love is Mine and a small, beautiful instrumental: Conversation Piece... A must have!!
Report this review (#43604)
Posted Saturday, August 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Adrian Belew's stab at the "avant-garde" album in the vein of Mike Keneally. Filled with varying pieces and little odd numbers in between, Op Zop Too Wah is a captivating experience that takes the listener on a journey through the more quirky and silly side of Adrian Belew. Throughout the 21 pieces, you feel as if you're going through a kaleidoscope of varying moods, tempos, structures, and feelings, but what I get out of this album to most is the quirky, experimental edge that was missing in Belew's works for so long (I don't think he's been this quirky or experimental since Lone Rhino, and it's more experimental than The Guitar As Orchestra).

Songs that really show what this album is about is the opener, Of Bow and Drum, which makes many lyrical nods to the Larks Tongue in Aspic era of King Crimson. Word Play Drum Beat feels like something off of a Mike Keneally album or one of the haiku pieces from The Mistakes' album, with it's odd words juxtaposed with intense music backing it. In the process of this album, you also can hear some of the influences of Belew, from Zappa to the Beatles, even some King Crimson moments come up now and again. I think that's what makes this album so great, is that he's taking his influences and creating an experience that shows so many sides of his character.

Overall, Op Zop Too Wah would be a great precursor to his Side trilogy. Shades of what those albums would be show up in this album here and there, making this album act more or less as a bridge between the older, pop oriented Adrian Belew and the newer, more cutting edge and experimental Adrian Belew. I highly recommend this album to those who like albums by Mike Keneally or The Mistakes, but also to people who want a great overall experience and enjoy their music more on the experimental side. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#110638)
Posted Sunday, February 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have to say that I really enjoy and respect Adrian Belew solo work. I was captivated by albums like Lone Rhino, Twang Bar King, Desire Caught By The Tail, Salad Days and of course his Sides trilogy. He is one of the most versatile musicians of these years, very eclectic and experimental and without a doubt, the guy who rises King Crimson since the 80's.

But if you want to introduce yourself into Belew's solo work don't try this one. Is a nice album but far away from his best releases. In first place is full of little nonsense pieces of +/- 1 minute that break the album harmony. Just "Live in a Tree" survives between these short songs with his great drum rhythm.

Second: as in all Belew discography you will find crimsonian sounds (specially guitars and percussions), some Zappa passages and a constant attempt to make some Beatles rhythmical and lyrical stuff. But even with this inffluences (very obvious BTW), the album sounds very uniform to me. Anyway I have to mention some of my favs:

All Her Love Is Mine: Slow and mysterious song, a little dark with nice arrangements for stick and strangely rhythmical.

I Remember How to Forget: A classic rhythmical Belew song that sounds like the 80's Crimson but with some touches of what he gonna do with the 90's KC. IN fact the end of that songs reminds me "Dinosaur"...

Op Zop Too Wah: The best song of the album. A very catchy instrumental full of great guitar riffs and solo, with a powerful percussion background in the classic style of Adrian.

Beautiful: Nice balad leaded by Belew vocals and guitar and some string arrangements.

High Wire Guitar: The most crimsonian song of the album! Distorted guitar, syncopated percussions... It looks like a leftover of "Thrak"!

The Ruin After the Rain: Very sad balad leaded by a piano with interesting lyrics and a great work on vocals.

On: THe last track of the album, perfcet for this finale. Nice arrangements an great rhythmical sections.

Good album but not of my favs... Anyway, Belew plays all the instruments on this album (as usual in most of his discography) and his talent and particular vision of music is totally respectable. That fact always gives to their releases at least one star as a base in any review of his albums...

3.5*

Report this review (#135355)
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album shows another side of Adrian Belew's talent as an artist. It is more popular in style, yet this work is a plus not a minus to a progressive rock musician's credit. The real test of a performer who has made his mark in one area of music is to reach out to other types of music with equal skill and imagination. He succeeds very well in applying his musical talents to producing very pleasing compositions in a mostly different genre. Each tune is less than about four and a half minutes and every piece is trimmed down to just the right length. Belew's lyrics are thoughtful, sometimes carefree, or witty. There's a really nice variety of lyrical and melodic themes here. Taken together, the compositions are fluid, not rigid; an excellent quality for a composer to possess. It would be asking too much that all the solo albums from the members of the big prog bands from the "good old days" were as good.

I offer impressions of a few randomly selected tracks: Of bow and drum: Begins with a primal screaming guitar theme that speaks oceans of emotion, raw and energetic, but never crosses the boarder between madness and melody. Really funky! You can't help but feel it. Each outburst is separated by a layered mellow vocal track that tells the story of bow and drum. Rhythmically continuous throughout with the natural sound of tribal drums done with the snare drum "off". Word play drum beat: There is no semblance of pop-music in this piece. The whole thing consists of a rock drum solo blended with multiple voices speaking two-word phrases. Belew seems to be experimenting with a kind of 21st-Century beat-nick inspired poetry piece. There are lots of possibilities here. Six string: Belew at his best. He has a voice to be coveted. This is a fine love song with a classic riff played with what sounds like a great Fender guitar in the hands of a man who doesn't play it, he charms it to utter sounds. You just can't help but to be swept up in the soaring and squealing guitar solo interludes. Conversation piece: Again the same guitar, undistorted, played just two notes at a time. All her love is mine: Rhythmic polyphony and a base line that groans evocatively. All the while, a synthesized sitar-like sound rings in harmony. The rhythm section is very cool and distinctive. Oop Zop Too Wah: Its all built around a 5:4 key signature and a funky bass line, and it works! Belew is a tasteful drummer who knows his limits, and never over extends himself. Adrian Belew plays all the instruments on this album, but he will always be a guitarist..and really great one. Something to do: A catchy pop tune; much along the lines of a study of Paul McCartney's style. High Wire Guitar: That title says it all. You could call it three and three quarter minutes of a Crimson guitar fit. The whole track is laid over Indian clay pots that seem to fit in just right. Sky Blue Red Bird Green House: Another funky little theme with not much more to say than the title. Its interweaving of rhythm and plucked guitar is distinctive. A real pleasure. On: An excellent finale.

Report this review (#142572)
Posted Sunday, October 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Eclectic, poly-stylistic, playful, energetic, fast moving - moves from one idea very quickly to the other - almost a high speed collage album - the perfect experimental rock album for a sound bite culture.

Whereas previous Belew solo albums were EITHER hard core experimental ('Desire Caught by the Tail') OR full of Beatles-pop pastiches ('Inner Revolution'/'Here'), 'Op Zop Too Wah' incorporates both angles of Adrian Belew's musical personality.... and (like his later sprawling 'Sides' series) really shows what this man is capable of as a creative musician, songwriter, producer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and guitarist.

What we have here are catchy quirky songs, often with blistering guitar playing, interspersed with shorter instrumental or sound collage type pieces. Adrian more or less plays everything himself and the range of textures, colours and styles have to be heard to be believed.

As the first solo masterwork from such a long time contributor to progressive/experimental music through his work with Zappa, Bowie and, critically, King Crimson, this album must be deemed a classic and, as such, is essential listening for progressive listeners.

Report this review (#218663)
Posted Thursday, May 28, 2009 | Review Permalink

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