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Articles Home » 2002 Articles » Alchemist, The - 2002 Songs From The Westside
 
Alchemist, The - 2002 Songs From The Westside


THE ALCHEMIST - SONGS FROM THE WESTSIDE (2002, LEDSLED RECORDS)
Carl Kennedy - drums, percussion, keyboards
Glenn Hughes - vocals
Tim Pierce - guitars
Ian Crichton - guitars


Background
A curious collection this one. Not the sort of album to turn up loud. For the most part it drifts on a bed of atmospheric layers infused with rhythmic pieces. It steers to the progressive side of the road, with loose associations to old prog dinosaurs from the past. Having Ian Crichton from Saga onboard probably helps the prog cause somewhat. However, The Alchemist is the brainchild of Carl Kennedy. Actually, The Alchemist is Carl Kennedy.. lets get that right. A bit of a digital recording expert and member of the Greg Lake Band, Kennedy has constructed a set which overall, has a mellowing effect. The bursts of reverbed piano are rather nice, coupled with Glenn Hughes soulful vocals. This album is eight years late, originally recorded in 1994, and only seeing the light of day now in 2002. If I could compare it to anything.. think Zappacosta crossed with Sting..

The Songs
Leading off with 'Right Before My Eyes', this track casually leads us into the world of The Alchemist. Standing out in particular are those wonderful ambient piano passages. 'Til The End' features some stirring percussive aspects, gradually building in tempo toward the end. It borders on World Music in much the same way as Jeff Cannata's 'Tamorok' project earlier this year. 'Full Moon Rising' has the same offbeat feel that a guy like Robbie Robertson performs. The smoky backroom lyrics are a giveaway.. you can imagine The Baker Boys movie, lots of cigars and whiskey! 'Hypnotized' yet again drifts off into the aural atmosphere, and by this stage, I'm wondering if the guitars are having any significant impact, and just as I ask this question, a guitar solo blazes out of my speakers to make a liar out of me. 'Westside' is a slow-mid tempo affair, which has a blues tinge to it, though atmospheric as always. We get more energy flowing into the 6m workout that is 'Taboo', lots of punchy piano runs and aggressive rhythms. 'Fools At The Wheel' meanders somewhat (perhaps dangerous considering the songtitle). The song itself is not about bad drivers per se, but those in power who are supposedly leading our planet.. into destruction.. 'Right Before My Eyes' returns as an instrumental right at the end of the album, once again reminding us of Kennedy's skills as a musician.

In Summary
To be honest, the dreamy/atmospheric aspect to the majority of tracks is gonna appeal to proggies or west coasters more than rockers I'd suggest. The quality of the album cannot be questioned, the sheer ambience of it at times is remarkable, but the snippets of guitar excitement are far and few between. Surprising considering the calibre of the two players involved. An album for the late nite listeners among you perhaps?

Track Listing:
01 Right Before My Eyes
02 'Til The End
03 Full Moon Rising
04 Hypnotized
05 Westside
06 Taboo
07 Fools At The Wheel
08 Right Before My Eyes (instr)

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