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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Stephan Thelen

Fractal Guitar 2

Review by Gary Hill

Stephan Thelen is no stranger to Music Street Journal. We've covered him with his band Sonar, but I also reviewed the first Fractal Guitar album. This new one continues the trend of strong music from Thelen. The instrumental music here seems to straddle a fence between fusion and space rock a lot of the time. In addition to Thelen, there are quite a few other artists we've covered in the past present on this release. Those include: Markus Reuter, David Torn, Jon Durant, Barry Cleveland and Andy West.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Cosmic Krautrock
The cool space rock meets fusion groove on this is so classy. The number works through a lot of different textures and modes as it continues. Space rock is a driving factor throughout. There is a mellower movement later in the track that really has a lot in common with the kind of thing that you'd expect to hear on that radio show "Echoes." It comes back out with some more driving fusion styled sounds as it reemerges from that part of the piece.
Fractal Guitar 2
I really dig the King Crimson turned fusion space rock vibe of this killer tune. The number really works so well. As strong as the opener was, I think I like this even more. There are things about it that call to mind stuff like Synergy, but the exploratory guitar brings other angles of sound to the proceedings.
Mercury Transit
The soaring, driving guitar sound on this is cool. The number has a lot more hard rocking energy than the pieces that preceded it. This gets into some screaming hot guitar soloing further down the road, but the classy fusion-styled groove works throughout. Parts of this make me think of early Pink Floyd to some degree. .
Ladder To The Stars
We're more firmly in the space rock meets fusion zone on this dramatic tune. That Synergy reference point is very valid on this cut, too. The guitar gets pretty crazed and particularly tasty later in the number.
Celestial Navigation
The opening section of this feels like something that would work as soundtrack music for "Star Trek" to me. That motif holds it for quite some time. The track eventually works toward sort of a King Crimson meets Synergy approach after a while. The piece makes its way through quite a healthy evolution and transformation. The guitar playing really drives this number so well.
Point Of Inflection
There is some real driving, rocking concept to this piece. It has a real guitar driven prog rock edge to it. There is some powerhouse guitar work as this keeps powering forward. This really is quite a strong piece, making it a great choice for closing shot. A short mellower movement at the end serves as rather needed grounding for the experience to end.
 
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