|Centric Jones: Phase Rotator Retard
|2002, Chris Fournier
Centric Jones (Chris Fournier) 2002 release, Phase Rotator Retard, is a progressive rock effort with an outer space rock feel to it. The progressions and chord structures used have a loose flow to them and utilize a lot of augmented harmonization that reinforce the spacey feel. Also, the fuzzy guitar tones and spongy synthesizer tones are used in a calculating manner that further builds this cosmic feel. The album is in a concept format where each track flows from one to the next building the journey through the cosmos that Fournier takes his listener. Fournier has a clear vision of the distinctive space music sound that he wants to project on this album, and this vision is easily grasped.
In order to adjust listener expectations to the content of Phase Rotator Retard, I'll help describe what the style is like and what it is not like. The musical style is primarily instrumental, blending a combination of clean-toned acoustic rhythm guitars, flanged electric rhythm and arpeggiation guitar, fuzzy-toned electric lead guitar, carefully selected synthesizer voicings, subtle drumming, and full-toned bass lines. The different instrumental voices work well together in both complementing one another in a distinctive manner and by being compatible. The fluid composition is comprised of slowly flowing arrangements with a translucent, spacey feel to them. The instrumentation is not of the intensive fusion or advanced progressive, boundary-stretching type. Though the playing on the album is capable, polished and refined, listeners looking for aggressive, shred, and instrumental pyrotechnics are not going to have any luck finding these things on this album. Instead, the album is more focused on the conceptual space rock theme and crafting the composition around this premise.
Prog rock space rockers might want to give a listen to this effort from Centric Jones. This is the type of music that you'll want to sit back and let it take you on the cosmic ride, leaving your worries and tensions behind.
|~ Christopher Ruel ~ www.ChrisRuel.com ~ Chris@ChrisRuel.com ~ November 2003
Fonya: Upper Level Open Space (CD, 68:20) CYBERHOME: http://www.fonya.com Fonya’s Upper Level Open Space is the sixth release from an extremely talented composer and performer named Chris Fournier, a performer who not only composed and arranged all the tracks on the release but also plays every single note of sound on the CD as well. The artist’s style adroitly combines the best qualities of both new age and symphonic rock, focusing on the former’s trance-like sounds and the latter’s emotional aggressiveness with fantastic results. One minute you’ll be “zoning out” to a tasty dose of ambient keyboard passages, and the next minute you’ll find yourself snapped to attention by some prog rock guitar that amazingly doesn’t sound out of place amidst the new-agey digital backdrops. After you’ve finished listening through Upper Level Open Space it becomes clear that Fournier is not another “one man band” with delusions of grandeur; in fact Fournier moves from instrument to instrument with mindblowing skill and mastery. Upper Level Open Space will consistently impress listeners from the wailing guitars of the opening cut “Stardaze at the Summit” to the beautiful closing passages of “Mountain of God.” Fournier shows his ability to rapidly shift gears by going from the inspiring guitar-heavy “Guadalupe from Sierra Diablo” to the Eastern-tinged rhythms of “Alpine Aquarium,” a track makes great use of stylish samples and textured percussion. Speaking of percussion, I didn’t see drums listed in the instruments played so I’m assuming that all the drums on the CD are programmed. If this is indeed the case, Upper Level Open Space contains some of the most convincing electronic drum tracks I’ve ever heard – while there are some spots where it’s obvious that the drums are programmed, there are also spots on the CD where I simply cannot tell. Perhaps the highlight of the release is the opening cut “Stardaze at the Summit” which opens with some very pleasing acoustic guitar work, but gradually piles layers upon layers of emotional keyboard and electric guitar riffs until the track reaches critical mass at the 9 minute mark and slowly fades out into wind effects. “Stardaze” truly is a showcase for Fournier’s musical prowess, showing remarkable ability on both keyboards and guitars without feeling the need to show-off, rightfully giving the songs themselves priority over self-indulgence. The only track on the CD that is sub par is the quite repetitive (and far too lengthy) “Infinite Visions,” which sort of gets stuck in a sonic rut half-way through and never truly recovers. However, other than that temporary “bump in the road,” Upper Level Open Space is smooth sailing all the way to the closing track. It’s not often that a one-man show comes along that can both play their instruments with both skill and subtlety, and it is even more rare when that artist can also compose and arrange with the same ability. Chris Fournier (Fonya) is one of these rare animals, and his Upper Level Open Space is definitely worthy to be on your musical short list. An excellent release from an incredible talented musician – one I hope to hear much more from in the future. - Michael Askounes (email@example.com) CREDITS: Chris Fournier: All Instruments TRACKLIST: 1. Stardaze at the Summit (9:40) 2. 14,000 Feet (3:43) 3. Infinite Visions (6:55) 4. Guadalupe from Sierra Diablo (5:56) 5. Alpine Aquarium (4:21) 6. Sundog (8:07) 7. Acadia (6:37) 8. Enchanted Rock (5:26) 9. Mountain of God (10:41) More information on Fonya can be found at http://www.fonya.com
Fonya: Sunset Cliffs (CD, 52:47); Red Shift, RSCD2001, 2000 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cyberhome: http://www.fonya.com 10 words or less: Why this fantastic, instrumental artist went vocal is beyond me. Elaboration: If you're a fan of symphonic rock and have never heard of Fonya, you've been missing out on some excellent albums. Fonya is a one-man band created by Chris Fournier. In 1992 he released his first CD entitled Wanderers of the Neverending Night. That album had mediocre vocals on 4 tracks but still showed promise of the brilliance to come. From 1993 to 1999 he released 5 albums of increasingly fantastic instrumental symphonic rock: Soul Travels (1993), In Flux (1994), Earth Shaper (1996), Perfect Cosmological Principle (1997) and Upper Level Open Space (1999). His latest album Sunset Cliffs contains vocals by Chris on all tracks and it pains me to say that he is neither a good lyricist nor singer. The music is wonderful as always but he doesn't allow more than a minute to go by without (and I use the term loosely) singing. Only the final tune is instrumental and by the time you get to that one it's just too little, too late. Sunset Cliffs comes across as a bad Roger Waters album and we all know the world doesn't need another one of those! ~ L Perez
Fonya: Perfect Cosmological Principle (CD, 70:58); KDCD 1024, 1997 Kinesis Inc. 1430 Wisp Hanover, MD 21076, USA Tel/Fax: (410) 551-8081 Email: email@example.com Cyberhome: http://www.kinesiscd.com Fonya is symphonic, progressive, spacerock coming at you in movements, fugues, and crystalline passages of varied wavelengths. You are carried along by intended song structures that inevitably fuse together into that early Oldfieldic, epic album effect. Compositions are imaginative, flowing, relaxing and freeing. Keyboard/synth frameworks are gilded with well-executed acoustic and predominately electric guitar work. Fonya's guitar voicings and style call to mind Oldfield, Paul Speer, (in his duos with David Lanz), and even that Charly McLion sound, (playing with synthwiz, Dreamstar). One thing sets Fonya apart, makes his signature clear -- the bass lines. Typically in symphonic, electronic pieces, the low-end is subjugated to burps, sputters, drones and overtly sequenced monotony with a very dated gestalt. That's not Fonya at all. His bass is compelling, lively, melodic, moving -- evoking active involvement in the listener versus mindless toe-tapping. Think Chris Squire of Yes or Henry Osborne of Djam Karet. Fonya knows how to rock on all his strings. Fonya is Chris Fournier doing it ALL! My favorite track on PCP was Mare Nectaris where I heard Kit Watkins meets Stan Whitaker -- HTM meets P. Floyd. You know what I mean? Very cool stuff. Catch a tribute to Yes as Fonya reworks "Gates of Delerium" from Yesshows. This is Fonya's fifth release that enchants the moment -- a pleasure in which to immerse one's mind fully. Highly recommended to those seeking quality in this genre. --John W. Patterson
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"Mare Nectaris" excerpt
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