Eric Wallack / Greg Segal - "Asleep Or Somewhere Else"
(Phantom Airship Records 2003, Pale 08)
From Aural Innovations #24 (July 2003)
Two of the indie underground's guitar maestros collaborated by mail to create a tasty platter of freely improvised instrumental explorations. Across the 17 tracks we are treated to a variety of styles that survey the space ambient, progressive rock, psychedelic, free-improv, and general sound exploration landscapes. What makes the album so enjoyable is the successful blending of contrasts and styles that range from meditative to Rock to abstract.
There are lots of tracks so I'll just give a rundown on the standouts... "Valleyheart Bridge" is among my favorites, featuring Eric playing a pleasing melody on the 12-string acoustic guitar while Greg cranks out some of the most intense, cosmic, wailing guitar notes on the album. Honestly, these are screamers that will have you wide-eyed and looking to the stars. Each musicians contribution is so vastly different... yet it works so well. Another highlight is "Tape Before Dawn" which consists of guitar loops, floating guitarscapes, and harder rock solos that make for an interesting blend of Robert Fripp and Manuel Göttsching. Many listeners will assume there are synths on this track but it's all guitars. Very nice. "The Foundation Gives" and "Soft Glass" are similar tunes that I enjoyed.
Among the more interesting pairing of contrasts is "The Purple Life", with its haunting, droning, howling guitarscapes and jazz saxophone. "The Circle And The Center" mixes dreamy guitarscapes with Bluesy melodic guitar that reminds me of Michael Hedges. Ditto for "The Fine Grey Morning". "Uzumaki" has a similar Blues element but with cool trippy spacey bits. "Last Train To Marrakesh" is an intriguing blend of ripping psych-rock and textural ambience. And "In The Orange" has an Oriental flavor that conjured up images of an avant-garde Japanese tea ceremony in space. Even when the duo get into the experimental free-improv realm, like on "Fall Away", there is still a powerful ambient element.
Fans of Greg's In Search Of The Fantastic album will most assuredly enjoy this and anyone who has been following Eric's work will be equally satisfied, though several of the tracks were screaming to be fleshed out further than the few minutes they were given. But overall a fine soundscape exploration that includes varied styles and influences.
For more information you can visit the Greg Segal web site at: http://www.gregsegal.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Phantom Airship Records; PO Box 82525; Portland, OR 97282-0525.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz