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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pink Floyd Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk should bow the knee, 17 May 2007
C. Nation "chrisnation" (Bristol UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Elements - the Island Anthology (Audio CD)
These four albums in the Island series from Jon Field and Tony Duhig are jewels containing the finest gems of musical creativity to come out of rock/jazz~rock/fusion of any era.

Released from the limitations of writing to include the banalities of the sub~Floyd lyrics of the previous incarnation of the band, which featured vocals, Field and Duhig were able to bring the full scope of their creativity to the conception of these albums. This music is 'painted' onto time as an artist applies oils to a canvas, layer upon layer leading to a unified whole.

The link to visual art is apposite also in that this music seems to come straight out of the visual cortex ~ what you hear is what you see. This was not an accident. Field and Duhig had clear ideas about what this music described in the visual realm. This 'programmatic' approach has a long history. Beethoven's 'Pastoral' symphony has a passage clearly describing a thunderstorm, Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons' has a dog barking in the quiet of 'Summer'

No other music of any genre has ever explored dynamics in the way that Field and Duhig did. Screaming guitar may be heard faintly in the 'far distance' of the mix, while a flute and finger cymbals play ppp in the near forground. Thunderous tribal drums are heard as if from the next valley while an accoustic guitar sounds as if it is being played by someone sitting in the seat next to you on some tropical verandah.

This is not music which spends its time in vague and unresolved meanderings. You could never use this music in a meditation class. Floaty flute passages will suddenly erupt as a tearing electric guitar rips its way forward into the piece. A gentle and beguiling accoustic guitar figure will be brought to a halt by an enormous crash of gong, drums and multi~tracked piano chords.

There are beautiful tunes on these albums. Solos by Field and Duhig on their respective principle instruments of flute and guitar are captivating.

These albums cannot be categorised. Are they jazz? There is much of jazz idiom ~ the soloing, some elements of the construction. Are they rock? Certainly there is conventional rock guitar, bass and drums and rock rhythms. But there are also direct quotes from 'Petrushka' and some distinct touches of Bartok. There is a rendition of the Balinese 'Monkey Chant'.

No need for categories. What IS needed is a really good quality stereo system, more so than any other music I know that could be generally classed as 'rock'. I can assure you that to listen to this music on a £250 music centre and to listen to it on quality gear is the sonic equivalent of peering at a masterpiece in hazy gloom and seeing it in clear light of day.

Field and Duhig as a composing duo were far more than the sum of their parts. These albums are evidence of two superb talents that together created music of the very highest order. I very much regret that these four albums were all that they were able to produce at this level and of course the early death of Tony Duhig rules out any revisitation but we have these 'Elements' and we are thus very fortunate.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 18 Nov. 2014
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Wonderful music and at great value.
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