Redshift: Big Sky (CD, 53:51) Redshift 2000 NO ADDRESS INFORMATION You know the feeling you get when you've heard a song that you USED to like for the 500th time, and you finally realize that you never want to hear it again? I like to call this the "Stairway to Heaven Syndrome". it's not that the song in question is a bad song per se, it's just that there's only so many times you can get excited over the same ol' riffs. You just can't get fired up about a song that you're totally burnt out on. Where am I going with this? Well, the discussion actually leads into this review of rock/fusion trio Redshift's latest self-produced release, Big Sky, an album filled with impressive guitar chops, but ultimately brought down by the same "Stairway to Heaven syndrome." By the time you've reached the end of the CD, apathy is bound to have set in because most of the songs on the CD sort of blend into one another without many distinctive features. It's not that the band members are poor instrumentalists by any means, it's just that they weren't adventurous enough on Big Sky to fill a full-length CD with music that held my attention for more than two or three tracks. Redshift is a Chicago-based band made up of guitarist Gary Skopick, bassist Jon Maru, and drummer Steve Blank. Skopick is probably the most impressive of the bunch - he's capable of some wickedly fast soloing when he takes center stage, and since Skopick is the featured musician on most of Big Sky, you'll hear a lot of him. Maru's bass playing is adequate - he pulls off some nice work on the track "Spacetrane" and generally has a good feel for how to play off of guitarist Skopick's leads. These guys have been teamed together for over 10 years, and it definitely shows in the musical interaction with one another. The newcomer to Redshift is Steve Blank, who takes on drumming duties using a Roland v-Drum kit rather than traditional acoustic drums. Blank also produced the CD, and did a pretty darn good job at getting the right levels and making Redshift sound like a professional outfit. The problem with Big Sky lies with its lack of variation. For example, Skopick uses pretty much the same guitar sound for ALL of his solos on the album; sure, there's the occasional wah-wah pedal, but for the most part once you've heard one of the solos on the CD, you've heard them all. Also, Steve Blank doesn't seem to make good use out of the versatile v-Drum technology - the drums actually sound like an acoustic kit, which makes me curious as to why Redshift bothered with v-Drums at all, (I guess it could've been physical space limitations.). Redshift does manage to include some decent tracks in the opener "Supernova" and the improv-like "Star Spangled Sunrise," but other than those two tracks there's unfortunately nothing terribly memorable about Big Sky. I think the main fault with Big Sky isn't so much playing or composition - Skopick, Maru, and Blank seem completely capable of writing and performing at a high level. What brings this album down is it's overall sameness - all the songs sound pretty much alike. If Redshift would perhaps get a little more sonically adventurous on future releases through the use of different guitar and bass sounds and better v-Drum programming, I feel they could improve immensely over this effort. However, I'd suggest that fusion fans take a pass on this release - or at least download a sample from their website before purchasing Big Sky - Michael Askounes (email@example.com) CREDITS: Gary Skopick: Guitars Jon Maru: Bass Steve Blank: Drums TRACKLIST: 1. Supernova (3:54) 2. The Dragon (4:34) 3. Runaway Train (3:41) 4. Big Sky (4:36) 5. Spacetrane (4:49) 6. Distant Thunder (3:36) 7. Peyote (5:01) 8. Blue Bag (5:09) 9. Yellow Jacket (6:28) 10. Speed (3:54) 11. Star Spangled Sunrise (3:47) 12. Sugar Rush (4:00)
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