Saturday, July 11, 2015

NEAL SCHON: "Vortex"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Provogue/Mascot 2015
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The ninth and tenth full-length solo album from Neal Schon (Journey, Bad English, Santana), the 2CD instrumental effort (thus why it's album #9 and #10 according to Schon) that features complex rock songs and a wondrously layered journey through the depths of Schon's psyche. And magical fingers, don't forget the fingers, since it's hammer time. Speaking of Hammer, the legendary keyboardist (Jan), a big part of the record, there's even the epic jam track entitled "Schon & Hammer Now" on disc two. Add to this drummer Steve Smith and his tribal work and you're all set for 18 tracks of classy instrumental rock, fusion, and the jazzy groove.

Hands down or up? I find it extremely hard or difficult to type down all of Schon's flashy moves and tricks on paper (okay, it's a computer screen). For instance. Take the opening track Miles Beyond as the perfect example and antidote to my shortcoming. The tone and control in the track is almost of an atmospheric degree, and there's something truly enthralling about the track. Less is more, but ever so bold and intriguing. It's a tribute to Miles Davis and his fusion sessions of the past.

Total control throughout the record as Schon uses his axe economically and doesn't resort to dull metal chords or riffing. The singing guitar is a joy to hear and you can tell that he's having a blast recording instrumental fusion. Crystal clear production and sound and basically perfect background music as you're watching Real Housewives on mute (you don't ever want to hear them bitch) or in this case typing on your PC. Sheer class.

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