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J21 - 'Beyond The Holographic Veil' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/d3/4f/38/1939_j21beyondtheholographicveil_1328035230.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 31, 2012    
 
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A cohesive collection, albeit one that is very difficult to pigeon-hole.

J21 is a guitarist from Barcelona who has been influenced by the work of Frank Zappa. He clearly has the knack of persuading luminaries from the world of Rock and particularly those who played with Zappa or his son, Dweezil, to appear on his albums. That said the names I recognised were Reeves Gabrels and Mike Garson who have both played with David Bowie plus Marco Minnemann, one of the front runners for the Dream Theater drum stool.

There is a concept to this album, which I won't go into because it would take the entire review to explain, the expansive CD booklet does go in to depth on the subject. Given the Zappa connection I was expecting something more eclectic when I hit the play button but '21˚ West' is a short Pink Floydian synth intro and 'I Can't Remember' is a fine Prog/Melodic Rock crossover with a nice melodies an chorus. There's some Keith Emerson style organ playing and I like Robert Martin's vocal delivery. Geoff Tyson takes lead vocals on 'The Veil of Time', as he does on the rest of the album, which has a dark riff and feel not unlike Riverside and at this early stage it's clear that J21 is happy creating songs rather than them being vehicles for him to show off his soloing capability. 'The Inventor of Paradox', an instrumental, begins with a nice acoustic guitar before a chunky riff intervenes and it's actually Tyson who gets to fly his fingers up and down the fretboard on this track. 'Travelling with the Ghost' puts me in mind of Blue Oyster Cult crossed with The Doors. The guitar solo on this one is certainly rather strange in the Zappa mould.

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'Kneeling' is a nice mid paced song with a good melody and a decent arrangement which makes for a very pleasing song. 'Calm' is just that, a lovely piano piece courtesy of Mike Garson while the following 'Shadowlife' features some super guitar work from Gabrels. 'Primordial' is another Garson piano interlude while 'Last Drops of Life' ramps up the energy with a fine riff. There's a tinge of Euro Metal to it but it never hits the generic button. The guitar solo is a good example of tuneful, meaningful and absence of "widdle"! 'The Life and Death Equation' has spoken lyrics and presents to differing guitar motifs which work well together; the first is gentle and melodic, the second quite modern. 'The Jupiter Trilogy' is quite eclectic and ups the Zappa and Prog Metal tendencies with odd time signatures and changes. Definitely a track for the musos out there.

I thought this was going to be one of those albums where the guitarist shows how fast he can play and how clever he is, but I was wrong. J21 clearly gets his kicks from creating tunes and songs so it's a cohesive collection, albeit one that is very difficult to pigeon-hole.

Gary Marshall

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