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Tony Levin - Waters Of Eden CD (album) cover


Tony Levin


Jazz Rock/Fusion

2.70 | 31 ratings

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2 stars With Tony Levin and his experience with bands like King Crimson and the like, you would expect a really great solo album with a lot of technical bass and complexities with jazz fusion leanings and a lot of improvisation. With 'Waters of Eden', what you end up with more than anything is something that sounds mostly like bad New Age music with a couple of tracks that are not bad, but most of them sounding dated and repetitive.

'Bone & Flesh' starts out as a nice atmospheric piece with shades of experimental and lush tones. About halfway through, it changes to a lilting world dance style with a heavy beat and a distinct melody, then ends with the soft sounds again.

'Waters of Eden' uses a violin and piano as backing to Levin's bass plucking out a nice melody. He later adds electric cello which takes over the melody. The California Guitar Trio guests on this track adding acoustic guitar later on in the track.

'Icarus' has a more mysterious edge to it with a sax taking the melody which is later shadowed with bass. The foundation of the song is good enough, but it sounds like a Kenny G melody, to 'smooth jazz' sounding for my taste.

'Gecko Walk' has a mid-tempo beat provided mostly by programmed percussion. The bass takes the melody again shadowed later with electric guitar. The main melody isn't very interesting, and overall the track falls flat with hardly any improvising at all, just a repeating of the main melody and very little variation.

'Belle' is a slow ballad with bass and piano providing the melody. It sounds like something you would hear in an elevator that probably would have been a big hit in New Age circles. It sounds very dated. You can sum it up in one word'.'Ugh!'

'Pillar of Fire' has a good driving rhythm and bass riff with electric guitar providing the main melody. The percussion has that world beat again like in track 1. Unfortunately, the 'Fire' gets doused at the 2 minute mark. The beat comes back about a minute later, and this pattern continues without a lot of variation again. At least it starts to get more intense towards the last part, but then when you think it might get good, it really does something stupid; it fades out.

'Boulevard of Dreams' has more of an improvised feel, the piano and bass creating a nice real jazz flavor, it is slow jazz, but at least it's not so New Age-y this time. It's actually a great track and has what most of the rest of the album lacks and so desperately needs: improvisation. Very nice.

'Opal Road' lets the acoustic guitar take the lead again with the bass shadowing later. It returns to that new age feel again. There's too much structure where looseness would have made things better. The repetitiveness just gets to boring.

'Utopia' is the final and also longest track on the album. At least you hope for a nice, rousing finale. It starts with a meandering bass melody with shimmering synths providing a feeling that something amazing is about to happen. When it does, it's just a mid tempo beat with a melodic bass playing a melody that is supposed to sound heroic. It just slogs on for 8 minutes, then fades out.

This is mostly a very frustrating album. Tony composed these tracks, but unfortunately only comes close to hitting the mark you expect in 3 of them. There is no doubt that Tony is an accomplished instrumentalist as he has proven over and over, so why he chose to make this more melody based so that it sounds like a New Age album instead of allowing for more improvisation from the talented musicians involved here is beyond me. It would have made more sense to release this kind of music in 1990, but in the year 2000, this even sounded dated. As much as I want to love Levin's solo albums, I end up coming away just feeling frustrated. I'm sorry to say this, but you are better off just leaving this one alone.

TCat | 2/5 |


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