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Roland Buehlmann

Crucial

Review by Gary Hill

This is an instrumental album that's a bit hard to pin down. Parts are fusion oriented. Other things are more purely progressive rock based. Still, there are also leanings toward stoner metal and more built into this sonic tapestry. Whatever you call this, though, it is compelling and intriguing. It never feels tired or redundant.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Kaiilen
Coming in rather percussive, this works out in style from there. It gets a bit crunchy as it drives onward. There is a cool bass line at the heart and lots of chiming percussion. The guitar sound almost calls to mind something from early Black Sabbath. There is a bit of a King Crimson like vibe at times on this. Some of the guitar soloing later makes me think of Steve Howe a bit. There are some fusion elements at play, too. It drops way down to weird atmospherics around the two-and-a-half-minute mark. When it starts to rise out from there I'm reminded of Al Di Meola to a large degree. The cut gets back into the percussively driven, hard-edged guitar led movement as it continues to evolve.
Higgayon
This comes in noisy and quite trippy. Atmospherics drive it forward. Around the three-minute mark it starts to drive upward in a more rocking way. There are some angular sort of guitar lines over the top of a slowly building bass line. Then, before the four-minute mark, some rocking guitar drives this in new directions. The cut then alternates between that more rocking concept and the slightly less powered up one. There is a real fusion vibe to this cut.
Buzzing
The cool fuzz-laden jam that opens this calls to mind stoner rock. There is a scream early in the jam which adds to that. The whole thing oozes cool. It drops down pretty far after the 30-second mark, and the piece is a reborn for a time as a more fusion kind of thing. The harder rocking section returns, and we get another scream before some cool prog guitar work is heard. This cut continues to evolve, moving along through areas of mellower and more rocking texture. It's unique and compelling. It has some interesting changes along the road.
Arabon
There is a definite King Crimson kind of thing at play on this track. It has an understated, but quite potent opening section and build up. Fusion is another definite reference point. When the piece drops to atmospherics after the one minute mark and begins to get reinvented that fusion thing is even more prominent. The piece works through a number of changes as it continues. This really gets involved and dramatic, but all the change is very gradual.
Crucial
The mix between atmospheric instrumental music and hard rocking stuff is so cool on this thing. It works through a number of different modes and moods. There is a section after the five-minute mark that features some killer bass work with guitar over the top. It reminds me just a bit of Pink Floyd for some reason.
Uvkal
This is one of the most dynamic things here. Given the competition, that says a lot. It works through a number of cool changes. It has more subdued sections and others that are more powered up and rocking.  Different instruments take the lead at different times, and this is decidedly unique and cool.
Miserere
There are some powerful fusion movements here. This has a good amount energy and a lot of magic built into it. This is one that's more of a straight-line, but that's only so true anywhere on this set.
Subconsciously
Coming in fairly mellow with keyboard sounds driving it, the bass rises up from there as this continues. Eventually guitar joins and it delivers some cool soloing as the song works forward. Eventually it drops back down and then starts climbing back upward. It gets decidedly intense and mean sounding as it does so. It abruptly drops back down from there. The mellower modes hold the track the rest of the way through.
 
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