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Canvas Solaris

Cortical Tectonics

Review by Gary Hill

Canvas Solaris have put out another CD and it is, once again, quality stuff. This music is all instrumental and shares as much with the world of fusion as it does with progressive rock and metal. Certainly all those styles and more are represented here – at varying points along the way. I’m sure those who are progressive rock purists won’t be interested in the album. The same holds true for jazz purists.

Unfortunately, those people will be missing out on some great music. One of the problems with instrumental music in my book is that a whole album of it can feel monolithic and boring. Canvas Solaris varies their sound and vision enough to keep that from happening. These guys are talented and have shown it once again with this newest release.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Berserker Hypothesis
They waste no time. This powers out frantic and crunchy. It’s fusion gone metal and careens around turn after turn. They turn it more mellow and melodic at points, but then scream back out. There is a cool ambient, melodic section mid-track. While this holds it for a while, they eventually scream back out with furious fusion abandon.

Sinusoid Mirage
The first portion of this is much mellower. It’s melodic and pretty but still has some intriguing fusion changes. It powers out after a while into another metallic fusion exploration that moves around one corner after another.

Interface
The motif that leads this off has an almost funky texture. It’s melodic and more sedate than much of the rest of the CD. This never cracks the surface into the land of metallic thunder. Instead it makes its way through a gentler soundscape. It’s a nice change of pace.

Gamma Knife
This pounds in, feeling even heavier against the quieter tapestry that preceded it. “Gamma Knife” feels like Dream Theater minus the keys and vocals. It has a Steve Vai texture, with more metal added to the mix. It’s a killer song if perhaps not the most dynamic on show here. They take this through some great changes, though – even while maintaining a more consistent nature. I particularly like the more rhythmic movement later in the track.

Rhizome
As this comes in furious you might think we are about to move into the same realm we just left. It’s not so, though. Instead this shifts down to a mellower form of fusion. This is more melodic and we get some cool soloing and other items. They power out into more metallic territory for a short time later and then take this into a more crunchy form of fusion. The metallic section serves to punctuate this soundscape.

Reticular Consciousness
A powerful fusion motif leads us out here. They build and rebuild this as they carry on. This piece is less metallic than some of the rest of the disc and moves off at times into territory similar to Joe Satriani. There is a cool drop down to a keyboard oriented section that’s much more melodic and sedate. Rather than power back out into heavier territory this continues along these lines, becoming a bit more powerful, before dropping back to more sedate musical territory for the next segment. We get some hints that it’s about to power up and then it does. This is faster and closer to metal yet the Satriani elements remain in the melody. They work through this harder edged segment for a while until they finally shift out to a mellow keyboard oriented section. This runs through and finally ends the piece.

 
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