Progressive Rock has always been a genre tailor made for keyboardists. The early pioneers were surrounded by banks of Mellotrons, Moog and ARP synthesizers, Hammond Organs, Hohner Clavinets, and a variety of electric pianos like the Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, and Univox.
When a string ensemble or vocal chorus was required to augment a MOODY BLUES ballad Mike Pinder would work his magic with the aide of his trusty Mellotron. To replicate the ethereal voice of the Universe musicians like Edgar Froese of TANGERINE DREAM or Keith Emerson would attack their modular synthesizers and unleash the sonic force of the cosmos. And when a classically inspired composition harkened back to the age of the Renaissance, Rick Wakeman was there with his Clavinet to emulate the delicate sound of the harpsichord.
Eventually advances in digital sampling keyboards replaced the vintage analog keys expanding the tonal pallet for keyboardists even further.
But then technology advanced a step further knocking keyboardists from their solitary perch with the invention of guitar based synthesizers, and suddenly guitarists like Allan Holdsworth could do everything a keyboardist could do – and sometimes better and more expressive.
Midi-Guitarist Mark Dwane was producing the type of spacey new age albums associated with TANGERINE DREAM and Klaus Schultz, while MASTERMIND guitarist Bill Berends was giving Keith Emerson a run for his money creating music that had all the hallmarks of vintage ELP .
This wordy dissertation on the evolution of guitar synths brings us to “Universica”, the latest CD from talented solo artist J T Bruce, who with the aide of his midi-guitar, has an expanded pallet of sounds and textures to work with, making for a truly enjoyable listening experience.
To call Bruce simply a musician is a disservice to his many talents – he is a true multi-media artists. Not only has he produced three impressive CDs … “Anomalous Material”, “The Dreamer’s Paradox”, and now “Universica, but he is also an accomplished artist and a talented film maker – producing both live-action and animated films.
His third release, “Universica” is a stimulating hard-driving collection of progressive metal instrumental rockers which should appeal to fans of Vinnie Moore, Joe Satriani, Alan Holdsworth, VISUAL CLIFF, and DREAM THEATER and their many off-shoots.
Bruce does it all … every note on this CD has been performed by him. The compositions are tight, well produced, and executed to perfection. What’s not to like?
J T Bruce - musician, artists, and film maker.
Jealous - who me? You bet your ass.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on July 2nd, 2010