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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Clark Colborn


Review by Larry Toering

Guitarist virtuoso and general music extraordinaire Clark Colborn, (aka “Clark Plays Guitar”) is back after a long delay between albums. During that time a lot has changed, but Colborn has weathered that and come out with a naturally progressive follow up. Even though it's been a while, it seems like a split second transition. Vocals get featured and are applied with an “abnormal”tone (to lift a quote from Colborn’s website) and lyrical thread that flows with comprehensive ease throughout this piece of illustrious art. Along with the ridiculously talented Rockford Illinois area songwriter and musical arranger is Joel Baer, drummer and rhythmic juji (as he is referred to). He is truly up to the challenge that a talent like Colborn presents. Both are out of this world with skills for which the best in the business would step aside. Colborn is the mastermind but gives due credit to what must be every last shadow of the proceedings, along with sharing his sense of humor and important concerns in the fantastic artwork's liner notes. There is really not a moment of air to come up for under every wave of sonic ear liquid that swells from its whirlpool of  elation. Never has anything so edgy and complex sounded so effortless and relaxed at the same time. Anyone who gets wind of this will surely be hoping the next one is worth just as much the wait, but comes without such an extended delay.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
The Unexpected

Straight away this is a well defined title, as little is wasted on anything less that sheer brutality from start to finish. There’s a sublime mid-section and appropriate vocals to round it out beautifully. Colborn plays like a monster as the drums pound away, never losing the groove around his majesty. There are some wildly insane chops displayed in every department. Of course, that never quits throughout the disc. The vocals add an artistic charm, and that is the prog element somehow naturally coming on stronger.

An Imperfect Waltz
This is a tightly structured cut with a bouncing rhythm with which the guitar plays along so nicely. It’s like the two elements were simply meant to plug in and automatically go anywhere. The searing characteristic guitar sound is amazing and, at points, humorous. By the time it's over there isn't one second spared in its perfect timing. 
Lie To Me
Speaking of humor, the vocals here are pretty upbeat for the otherwise aggressive situation the lyrics seem to convey. Whatever the lyrics mean, this is another well written and delivered tune. It is one of the most accessible songs on offer.
The Harmonic Thing
The sound of pinched harmonics is set to some of the most intricate and controlled atmosphere around. This is another well placed number, as it sets up the fire about to blaze your hair off. This is an interesting display of magic.
Mr. In-a-Hurry, part 2
If there is a “part one” I would love to hear it, as this is just some of the most bombastic shredding on all instruments applied I have ever heard. It’s just a crazy groove that flies about like a menacing vulture and fades away with a delicate motor cruising off into the sunset. Colborn progresses to even more unheard of realms and adds a fantastic bass. Guitar slapping matches with crashing symbols as the two spar together with ferocity in a jazz school vein, even though it has a throwback metallic feel in parts, as well. There just is no nailing it to one thing, as funk is present to a notable degree, too. It doesn't get much better than this.
Lilacs and Cardinals
This is where things appropriately slow down, keeping the precision timing intact as it goes. If there had to be one track that sticks to me the most it would be this thing of cosmic beauty. The whole song is an intricate masterstroke, and even more interesting than “The Harmonic Thing'” as the progress seems to never end.
It's Your Life
Just like '”Lie To Me” this has an aggressive vocal approach. Once again, it's spread out so the thread isn't too sticky. Clever timing and just plain integrity went in to every particle of this CD. This is one of the darker tracks, yes, but it's yet another charmer. I like Colborn's very unique voice. It's calming over his intense guitar when it needs to be, and practically incendiary at times. By this point the songwriting standard is obviously proven, to go along with all of the unreal playing and solid production values.
Into The Mist
Another perfect stroke of timing is captured in this brilliant piece of hypnotic melancholia. If this album were a mixed drink it would have to be called “the Neutron Bomb.”
This is another mind melter in the same epic approach as many of the other numbers. Once again Colborn is magnificent. Along with equally talented drummer Joel Baer, Colborn kicks the ear drums up one side of the cliff and down the other like a nitrous filled bulldozer. 
Stop Talking
This makes me feel like I've said too much, and that's what it should do. However, I have coincidentally managed to keep my words at a quality over quantity level. This carries on in the same vein as “Lie To Me” and “It's Your Life” with the aggressive humor blend coming full circle and nearly evenly split. Still, the humor comes out the overall winner in the vocal section. I can't imagine anyone hearing this and not chuckling at it while loving it all the same.
Just when cloud nine is getting massively cozy, in comes another wave of turbulent bombast with more out of this world guitar parts of the insane variety. This is one killer closer with “guitar anthem” written all over it. Once again the musician’s chops skyrocket through space like some kind of unstoppable army of two. Their massive chemistry culminates here on one of the finest tracks of it's kind to be heard. There are just freaky time changes and wild licks galore! And then comes that voice again to bring it all back together. It's tracks like this one, and “Mr. In-a-Hurry, Part 2” that establish Colborn and company as a serious force with which to reckon.


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