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Joelmusicgroup - Six Degrees Of Freedom

Artist: Joelmusicgroup
Title: Six Degrees Of Freedom
Label: self produced
Length(s): 50 minutes
Year(s) of release: 2001
Month of review: {04/2001]

Line up

Joel Maslakowski - everything

Tracks

1) Mito 006 6.49 MP3 or RealAudio
2) Round In Circles 5.05
3) In The Name O' The Father 8.28 MP3 or RealAudio
4) My Inferno 5.55 MP3 or RealAudio
5) Milton's Tales Of Fall 5.42
6) Invisible Man 4.42
7) Crimson Blues 5.14 MP3 or RealAudio
8) Home Free 8.25

Summary

After a not so satisfying career in music Joel decided to call it quits and do something he really wanted to do for a time: play his own brand of music. Given his many progressive influences, certainly interesting for a site such as this: KC, Asia, Holdsworth, Genesis, Yes and the list goes on.

The music

Mito 006 opens the album with loud distorted riffs, accessible but not so well articluated vocals and some keyboards intertwined. Some of the transitions do not really go well in this song, the transition to the guitar solo for instance. This solo is of the meandering type, but I kind of like it. On the whole the music sounds a bit dull, and the vocals are a bit in the style of Rick Ray, a little less grating.

The influence of Asia and John Wetton is mostly felt in the vocal parts. Although the music of Joelmusicgroup can be quite thrilly and complex sounding, the vocal parts are usually quite accessible. I like the second track Round In Circles less than the previous track. There are some UK influences in this track, it seems, but the song doesn't really get underway.

In The Name O' The Father is a rather dissonant piece, especially in the keyboard section. The monotonicity in the voice of Joel starts to be noticeable here, a bit the effect Todd Rundgrens have on me. Past halfway, the song takes a turn for the relaxed. The sounds used here have something of violin. Do-it-yourself musicians such as Joel and for instance Rick Ray have the problem that the drumming often is either automatic or lacks groove. For me that makes it difficult to really enjoy the music, because the music doesn't come alive as well as it could.

One of the more succesful tracks on the album is My Inferno. Including lyrical references to David Bowie and King Crimson, the song has a strong vocal melody. I do not really know why, but Milton's Tales Of Fall like much of what has gone before reminds me both of Todd Rundgren and John Wetton. It has to be said that Joel puts more adversity into his music, making it more interesting for us proggers. In this track the bleepy disjoint keyboards contrast with the melancholic vocal lines.

Invisble Man is a bit more bouncy and quircky, but on the whole this is not a very good track. Nice though, how the guitar approaches something akin electric violin.

Crimson Blues brings us first to dissonant riff rock, but the music takes quite a turn then. At the end the Hendrixian riff returns.

The final track, Home Free, opens soothingly. Then the music picks up speed, but halfway the music breaks back into something more romantic, the guitar and the vocal melody might be a bit too trite here.

Conclusion

Compositionally, quite a few nice tracks on this album, but the presentation leaves things to be desired: a livelier rhythm section, better vocals would certainly help in bringing out more of the music. Also the artist should be aware of sameness creeping in, but maybe a more varied used of vocals would already help enough in this respect. John Wetton is an apt reference, but the compositions are much more proggy and adverse, than anything Wetton has ever done. When I first heard the disc, I thought there was not much to this music, but after a while the compositions and melodies rear up their heads, and it is possible to enjoy the music. I would still like to hear it recorded with better production facilities and with a band.


© Jurriaan Hage