Darryl Way – Ultra Violins (2013 Cherry Red Records_Explore Multimedia)
Because of my reputation for liking progressive rock music, I'll occasionally get sent music CD's that are somewhat out of the ordinary for me to review. The thing with a progressive rock song is that it can step out of the boundaries of what's considered an ordinary rock tune. In a typical pop-rock song a keyboard can follow along the vocals, and if their is a solo, it's only a few seconds before the keyboards need to be back in step. As far as progressive rock goes in general, there really isn't really a formula to follow along to. As a matter of fact, that's a good point as to why get into prog-rock at even begin with. For when it's a solid prog-rock song, it just happens. Working under this umbrella, a keyboardist has the freedom to have a solo for as long as it can be substantiated. In the case of Darryl Way's Ultra Violins, the majority of the music on this disc is written by composers, long dead. I'm talking classical music folks. I don't know about you the reader, but my knowledge of classic music is extremely limited. I'm not totally out of the loop. Matter of fact I picked up some just by being a ProgHead all these years. When in the right environment for it, I do at times become more open-minded to indulge.
Being a follower of progressive rock music, one sooner or later finds out that many of the musicians in the field have some kind of knowledge of classical music. This can be in part due to the way they developed their musical knowledge. For example,Darryl Way, for those who don't recognize the name, studied violin at Dartington College and under Antonio Brosa at the Royal College of Music. Brosa himself was a pupil of Pablo de Sarasate, the 19th century virtuoso violinist and composer. I first learned of Darryl Way via outstanding prog-rock group named Jethro Tull. On Jethro Tull's studio album Heavy Horses (1978), Mr. Way plays violin on two songs; 'Acres Wild' and on the title track, 'Heavy Horses'. Which by the way, is my favorite song off the album. Many others discovered Darryl another way, through his participation in a prog rock band called; Curved Air. Forming in the year 1970, Mr Way is an original founding member. And besides being an extraordinary violist, he's also an accomplished piano / keyboard player.
Cool Darryl Way Fact: He has also played with the National Philharmonic Orchestra on film scores such as, "Die Hard", and the James Bond flick "Licensed to Kill".
'Ultra Violins' is Darryl Way's first solo CD in twenty years. Now if a fan already, or even a casual listener of classical / orchestral music, then one is going to be simply delighted with this. Fans of instrumental music, new age, violin music, the already mentioned prog-rock or classical, should all adore 'Ultra Violins' as much as I. Included are Way's own adaptations of orchestral pieces such as Georges Bizet 'Farandole', and Alexander Borodin's 'Scheherezade'. Also,one from Curved Air's past called 'Vivaldi', and a new Way composition called 'Tarrantelle'.
Rating: Again, it's not the usual music I surround myself on a daily basis. I can't be any more honest then when I say that every play of Ultra Violins has been a pleasurable experience. One that keeps getting better, each time exposed. Warning...can be infectious. It simply begs for repeat plays. Not only from myself, but for others that I played it for. At a warehouse in Houston Texas on a recent Sunday morning, after the disc was finished playing, some random person working there, walked over to the stereo system, and pressed the repeat button. These same speakers the majority of the time blasts death metal. One person mentioned Darryl's music as soothing, making him feel relaxed. Guess I should mention the same person was suffering from a massive handover. Remember, I mentioned it being a warehouse. Work hard, play harder.
Using the one to five star rating system, Uncle G gives Darryl Way – Ultra Violins...5 SOLID stars. From the first note heard to the last one played, I conclude this to be a PERFECT album. Certain pieces are contagious such as "Fanandole". The CD also includes multimedia content: comments by Mr Way, a FANTASTIC video for "Fanandole" that contains skeletons you'd never yourself want to encounter, and a very cool program that shows you how the cover art was drawn. Would make an excellent computer screen-saver (hint hint).
My last thought on Darryl Way – Ultra Violins, not only am I recommending this to my readers, but all my personal friends as well. For not only is this appropriate to play on any occasion, but Darryl Way – Ultra Violins also makes for excellent background music on those times where there might be a romantic encounter. If I can recommend something to sex things up a bit to help a friend get lucky, then why not. Besides, the violin is an instrument of beauty. On Ultra Violins, Darryl Way proves that time and time again. Listen for yourself and I'm certain you won't be disappointed.
American Corespondent for Classic Rock Radio Dot EU