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Allan Holdsworth - Sand CD (album) cover


Allan Holdsworth


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.28 | 51 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars At the time of this review I was in the midst of a binge of ultra-technical, thick with complexity, RIO/Avat-garde/Metal listening. Needing a little contrast for awhile I decided it would be good to revisit one of my favorite chill-out albums, Allan Holdsworth's Synthaxe spectacular, Sand. This is one of those albums that I have to wonder if my appreciation for it is because it is truly wonderful music, or strictly a matter of nostalgic attachment. For this album was in my collection when it was one of about 40 CD's, and it was a frequent bedtime selection. It is hard not to have an affinity far beyond its tangible qualities to something that has led you off to dream land so many times.

This album is very...synth...heavy. That aspect is what I suspect has lead to its vast lack of appreciation. If there is anything that one expects from an Allan Holdsworth album, even an Allan Holdsworth guest appearance, its guitar. Specifically jazz electric guitar. More specifically Holdsworth's trademark warm toned mid-range heavy organic soloing. There are only two incidents of that on Sand, on the third and fifth songs, Pud Wud and 4.15 Bradford Executive respectively. As much as I share that Holdsworth solo expectation most of the time, it is used just enough on this album. As far as the synth patches that are used with Mr. Holdsworth's Synthaxe, the occasional piano patch, a saw wave here and there, but tends to lean heavily on string pad sounds. It is generally a very peaceful sound. I am someone who does not do well with the Neo-prog sub-genre, or 80's popular music at all. This is largely because of the stabby synth sounds best epitomized by the synths on the theme for "Beverly Hills Cop". That is not the type of synth you hear on Sand.

Additional musicians include the equally subtle precision of Chad Wackerman and Gary Husband splitting duties on drums which they have for much of Holdsworth's solo discography. The adept and groovy Jimmy Johnson on bass. And additional keyboard sounds, because there weren't enough already, by Alan Pasqua. And some guy credited for playing a "Mac Computer". It probably seemed cute at the time.

There are the kind of albums that put you to sleep because they can't hold your interest, and the kind that put you to sleep on purpose. I don't think Allan Holdsworth had it in mind when he wrote the album, but for me it is the latter. Its not that there is a complexity void to the writing, but it really is easy listening. After this re-visitation of Sand I really do understand the detractors. I would say it remains an essential part of my collection, leaning toward the reasoning of nostalgia. Had I just heard it for the first time last week I would likely have an opinion similar to previous reviewers. Good, but not essential. 3 Stars.

Tapfret | 3/5 |


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