Saturday, April 22, 2017

Allan Holdsworth - 1989 "Secrets"

Secrets is the sixth studio album by guitarist Allan Holdsworth, released in 1989 through Intima Records; a remastered edition was reissued in 2008 through Eidolon Efformation. The album features drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, rather than regular collaborator Chad Wackerman; Wackerman did, however, write and supply drums for the song "Peril Premonition".

A true masterpiece, Secrets is the massive culmination of Allan Holdsworth's years-long legato technique and SynthAxe development. Conceptually inspired by but significantly different from the electric guitar, the SynthAxe is not a guitar-controlled synthesizer; it's a completely unique instrument of its own, making the guitarist's gripping performances all the more impressive. Holdsworth actually plays both instruments at a world-class level, setting an almost unreachable technical standard for aspiring rock, jazz, and fusion players. In addition to Secrets' technical accomplishments, Holdsworth contributes some of the most inspired songwriting of his career. The instrumental choruses are subtle and fluid, and the vocal lines on "Secrets" (performed by Rowanne Mark) and "Endomorph" (Craig Copeland) surpass earlier Holdsworth-penned efforts with their touching lyrics and melodies. Simply put, this 1989 Enigma release is a triumph, the final contribution to the artist's seminal '80s collection that includes Metal Fatigue and Atavachron. Fans of progressive music (no matter the genre) are recommended to search out the furtive Secrets, and unearth the sadly hidden knowledge of a musician's sublime transcendence of form, through passion and genius.

This CD just slams from note 1. Vinnie Coaliuta does a fantastic job on drums. I remember talking to Vinnie a few years before this and asking him who he would like to play with that he hadn't had the oppurtunity to yet. His reply was very quick. . . Holdsworth. He was a bit connected in that Holdsworth liked Vinnies playing and Vinnie was doing a band with Holdsworth's then bassist Jimmy Johnson. Great as Vinnie's performance is (by far the best drum performance of that year) it isn't what carries the CD. Holdsworth sounds amazingly fresh on this CD. He is ripping, of course, but there is more to it. He was backing off of the Synthaxe at this point. Not that he was done with it, just backing off. I am always moved by the two compositions 'Joshua' and '54 Duncan Terrace.' This is just a fantastic CD. One of those that you just think somehow this CD absolutely HAD to be recorded.

City Lights, the first track, is jaw-dropping - Holdsworth seems possessed by the spirit of Coltrane and just lets loose. City Lights takes off like a rocket plane, soars into space, then comes back to earth again, depositing the listener safely - leaving him/her to wonder what happened and where they were taken to. As with many of Holdsworth's tunes, especially his faster, complex ones, they beg to be heard again and again. Vinnie Coliauta's drumming is in lock-step with Allan, creating a hard-driving, fiery paced tune fueled with intensity.
Like fractal geometry, the more you follow Holdsworth's musical lines as they smoothly spiral around, getting more and more reflective on an overall theme/picture, the more you realize their incredible detail and intricate structure. Holdsworth has truly tapped into something beautiful - something that makes him stand out as incredibly unique among a sea of other good and even great guitarists.


Of all the Fusion records I've heard, this is the best one. It showcases not only Mr H's superhuman ability on the fretboard, but at the same time, his ability as composer. What's amazing is that he is able to create highly melodic steams of notes at any speed. Sometimes fusion tends to get somewhat mechanical and metallic, but not on Secrets. Here the music is fresh, lyrical and fluid, filled with imagery and movement. Vocals on two songs contribute to the atmosphere, and keyboards add a lush symphonic backgrop to some of the songs. Recommended for anyone who likes fusion an contemporary jazz. 

Tracks Listing

1. City Nights (2:33)
2. Secrets (4:21)
3. 54 Duncan Terrace (Dedicated To Pat Smythe) (4:35)
4. Joshua (5:59)
5. Spokes (3:32)
6. Maid Marion (7:17)
7. Peril Premonition (4:44)
8. Endomorph (Dedicated To My Parents) (4:19)

Total Time: 37:20

Line-up / Musicians

- Allan Holdsworth / guitar, Synthaxe (2,5,8), spoken voice (7), producer & mixing

With:
- Rowanne Mark / vocals (2)
- Craig Copeland / vocals (8)
- Gary Husband / keyboards (1)
- Alan Pasqua / piano (3)
- Steve Hunt / keyboards (4,6)
- Jimmy Johnson / bass (1-6,8)
- Bob Wackerman / bass (7)
- Vinnie Colaiuta / drums (1-6,8)
- Chad Wackerman / drums & keyboards (7)
- Claire Holdsworth / spoken voice, in French (7)
- Jeffrey Ocheltree / "hammer" (7) 

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