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Allan Holdsworth - Atavachron CD (album) cover


Allan Holdsworth


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.10 | 49 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars The dominant plague

I enjoy Allan Holdsworth's unique guitar tone, but I honestly cannot enjoy the majority of his solo output very much as he is not a very strong composer and most of his music comes off as just endless "noodling" and unfocused sonic experimentation. Not really my cup of tea at all, I must say. I have always enjoyed Holdsworth best when he was a band player, particularly when he was a member of UK in the late 70's with John Wetton, Eddie Jobson and Bill Bruford. In that group the melodic sensibilities and songwriting skills of Wetton could counterbalance the Jazz-Rock indulgences of Bruford and Holdsworth while the latter two brought an adventurous edge to the former. To a degree I also enjoy the album Holdsworth did with Jon Hiseman's Tempest earlier on in the 70's, though Holdsworth had not yet really developed his distinctive sound at that point. Much more recently, Holdsworth worked with a US-based group called K2 who recorded an excellent Symphonic Prog album in 2005 that featured plenty of his distinctive guitar playing but beneficially restrained by a band environment.

The present album from 1986 was the follow up to Metal Fatigue from the previous year. Metal Fatigue is by far Holdsworth's best solo album and Atavachron is certainly a disappointment in comparison. Indeed, comparing this album to anything else Holdsworth had made up to that point (that I have heard), solo or in different bands, this comes off as rather weak. However, this is also very different in style so maybe it is not fair or even possible to really compare in this way. The present album saw him experimenting with his (in)famous SynthAxe for the first time, an instrument that is a mix between a guitar and a synthesiser and is depicted on the weird cover art picture. This is indeed an interesting instrument and the distinctive sound it produces is appealing in moderate doses.

Atavachron is almost entirely instrumental but the last number features female vocals. In a way this last piece is the most conventional, but at the same time it is perhaps also the most experimental of them all due to a rather strange middle section. I generally prefer the instrumental tracks. In addition to guitars and SynthAxe we find here keyboards, drums and bass played with skill by different people.

Overall, Atavachron is an interesting album but I find it hard to see it as anything over and above a curiosity. It is listenable, partly enjoyable and worthwhile for anyone with a special interest in Holdsworth's experimental Jazz-Rock style. For the average Prog fan, however, this is not really recommended.

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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