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Monday, April 29, 2013

Harmonic Blue - Villa Borghese

Harmonic Blue - Villa Borghese
2012, MondoTunes

Harmonic Blue is the coming together of Zach Field, Gabe Bustos, Anthony Ajluni and Sam Balcom, for very distinctive musicians with varying musical backgrounds.  This unsung super group creates some of the most lushly crafted pieces of musical experimentation around. Harmonic Blue’s latest efforts are documented on the album, Villa Borghese.

Harmonic Blue kicks things off with "Hey", a needful tune looking for a tryst. The vocal line is a bit bland and a bit too low in the mix, but there's some fantastic guitar work going on behind the scenes here. "NO8DO" is a brief finger style guitar instrumental that sounds as if it wants to be part of a song. It's an incomplete idea with potential. "I Go, She Goes" follows the path of a relationship that is all in the mind. Once again, the vocals are passable, but the guitar work is inspired by some of Hendrix' more melodic work. The compositional style here is complex and longitudinal, like one of Sting's post-jazz transitional pieces.

"Silver Spoon" rests firmly in the angst of an adult child with an overbearing parent. Vocalist Zach Field sings with a passive air of being trapped in the perceptions of others while bemoaning his fate. The music is worth digging into, even if the vocal is stretched a bit thin. "Subreality" is an expansive musical exploration at nearly six and a half minutes. Guitarist Anthony Ajluni has some of his finest moments here, waxing poetic on six strings like an artist in thrall. "Villa Borghese" picks up the unfinished thought introduced in "NO8DO" and carries it to its logical conclusion, which turns out to be none at all. Instead we are left with a musical epigraph that fades in and out like the very rhythm of life. Harmonic Blue closes with the evocative and expansive sounds of "Sturgeon Moon", winding down on a melancholy and decidedly disarming note. The same musical dynamics found throughout the rest of the album are present here, with Zach Field reaching to the edge of his range and Anthony Ajluni laying down a lush sonicscape on which he can play.

It is the proud stoic musician who can stand up to the slings and arrows of pop music without flinching.  Harmonic Blue is lucky enough to have four such musicians in one ensemble.  The result is a world class sound, with four instrumental voices mixing in angelic fashion.  The lead vocal is stretched a bit thin at times, but the band makes it all work out in the end.  Villa Borghese is a memorable experience.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)



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