Bryan Beller "View" (Onion Boy Records 2006)

For many years Brian Beller has been well known for his cooperation with Mike Keneally both on their common projects and bands. Several times Keneally / Beller toured through Europe and Germany as a duo with the so-called "Clinic Tours". The two of them had a good time in various record stores and similar locations where they joked with their audience playing highly sophisticated, exciting and technically advanced patterns with a smile on their faces.
"View" isn't a complete solo opus of bass player Beller. There are 13 tracks on the CD but only 4 of them are solo bass tracks played by Bryan Beller on acoustic and electric bass guitars.
These are virtuoso, sensitive pieces that are surprisingly simple and easy going although being elaborately constructed - most enjoyable are tiny rather unexpected sequences. The other 9 songs are recorded with a band. Mike Keneally himself plays the guitar, keyboard and organ - the other musicians are Rick Musella, Nick D`Virgilio, Tricia Steel, Jeff Babko, Joe Travers, Fausto Cuevas, Toss Panos, Wes Wehmiller, Griff Peters and others.
The most sophisticated and - for me - most moving piece is the 5th track "Get things done," a passionate, virtuoso theme that is both of complex rhythmical and melodic excitement and variety. An excellent recording! Bryan Beller isn`t your typical prog-musician. He is influenced by jazz, old and new rock and light American folk. He is furthermore a true American which can be quite clearly heard in the well structured vocal track of "Bite".
His sense of elegant harmonies - diabolically skilful - is a lot sharper than his sense of the simple and the melodic which is obvious in "Eighteen weeks". Keyboard / bass guitar, vibes / bass guitar and bass guitar / keyboard / vibes played in unison are certainly a great challenge for a rock musician's imagination. Certainly no earth shattering theme but an excellent, well elaborated composition, with a pinch of jazz rock. A sleepy theme whose tranquillity and peaceful atmosphere not even the bass frequencies can disturb. (We want more of it).
The other tunes are of the same intensity for example "See you next Tuesday", an illustrious piece of jazz rock with the fantastic hyper-active drumming of Toss Panos and wild jazzy chords both towards Beller's bass and Mike Keneally's baritone guitars. But what do you expect?! The theme as such is not very extravagant but the way the three of them creatively deal with it is simply fun to listen to. As you can see or rather hear it's not the composition alone that makes a great piece of music but the way a group of talented artists interpret it. The title track at the very end is of a melancholic nature led by electric guitar and piano followed by bass guitar and drums that are much in demand.
Weird and simple but at he same time advanced - unpretentious and extremely playful.
"View" is an excellent recording, mainly instrumental, meandering pleasantly without being too strenuous. Masterfully composed - it's intensive and full of intuition warming your heart and soul - an absolute must. Highly recommended!

bryanbeller.com
onionboyrecords.com
keneally.com
Review: VM
Translation: Eva Wondratschek



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