Sunday, September 6, 2015

Allan Holdsworth - 1997 "Heavy Machinery"

Heavy Machinery is a collaborative studio album by guitarist Allan Holdsworth, keyboardist Jens Johansson and drummer Anders Johansson, released in 1996 through Heptagon Records (Sweden), and on 12 August 1997 through Shrapnel Records (United States) and Pony Canyon (Japan).
Confusingly, on the album's European/U.S. release, "Macrowaves" is made up of complete silence after 2:51, with an additional improvised "filler" keyboard and drum solo by the Johanssons at 23:46. On the Japanese release, "Macrowaves" only comprises the first part as normal without any silence; the silence has instead been moved to the bonus track, "The Moose Are Marching", where it fills the space from 7:59 to 20:45, after which the latter keyboard solo from "Macrowaves" ends the album.

Remember Jan Hammer and Jeff Beck jamming together with lead tradeoffs ad libitum forever amen? You will hear many similarities in guitar legend Holdsworth and keysman Jens Johansson springboarding off each other. A big difference soon unfolds -- this duo just plain smokes, cutting early into the fast lane and getting right down to business. Things overall are compositionally interesting, noticeably precise, big and phat, just more intriguing than those Hammer/Beck excursions. It immensely helps havin' monster-everywhere drumming, a veritable demon-wind blowin' at their backs like Anders Johansson kept rock steady.
It was refreshing to hear Holdsworth get funked up and get in a rockin' groove thang for a change on many cuts. His guitar tone seemed bigger -- perhaps augmented in places with some background triggered synth-echo delays and textures. Jens Johansson was outstanding in his mosaic of keyboard styles and voicings. He nearly duplicates that signature Holdsworthian lead phrasing. An expertly interwoven synthesis of sound and rhythm is present. Great jazz-rock fusion happens here.
An intensity propels this musical meeting. Drummer Anders Johansson and Jens Johansson have roots that dig deep: playing with axe-shredder Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force, Ronnie James' Dio, and a host of other metal ventures. Latter-day Mahavishnu Orchestra bassist Jonas Hellborg has collaborated with the Johansson brothers as well. Simply put, herein lies vast versatility. Invite guitar genius and innovator Allan Holdsworth over to jam and you spark unforgettable fireworks of furious fusion. Holdsworth fans, this is a must. Rockers and jazz-rock fusionists alike will delight in this recording.
John W. Patterson at AllMusic gave Heavy Machinery three stars out of five, but described the album positively as "unforgettable fireworks of furious fusion" and "great jazz-rock fusion". He praised all three musicians for their intense playing, in particular comparing Holdsworth and Jens Johansson's jamming to the duo of guitarist Jeff Beck and keyboardist Jan Hammer, but remarked that the album is "just more intriguing than those Hammer/Beck excursions."

Track listing

All music composed by Jens Johansson.
No.     Title     Length   
1.     "Joint Ventures"       5:48
2.     "Beef Cherokee"       4:02
3.     "On the Frozen Lake"       4:52
4.     "Mission: Possible"       5:15
5.     "Good Morning, Mr. Coffee"       7:25
6.     "Siouxp of the Day"       4:02
7.     "On the Fritz"       5:24
8.     "Tea for One and a Half"       6:22
9.     "Never Mind Our Weather"       5:54
10.     "Macrowaves"       24:55
Total length:


    Allan Holdsworth – guitar, SynthAxe
    Jens Johansson – keyboard, bass synthesizer,[5] engineering, mixing, production
    Anders Johansson – drums, production



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