|| reviews |
HITS Magazine, December 12, 2014
Best Books of 2014
6. Gary Lucas, Touched by Grace: My Time with Jeff Buckley (Jawbone Press): The world-class guitarist—best-known for his work with Captain Beefheart and his own wide-ranging solo career—looks back on his involvement with the late Jeff Buckley in a book that outlines the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in the business of music circa 1991, back when times were still relatively prosperous. Lucas also does a great job of delineating the musical and spiritual connection between him and his erstwhile partner, as well as the premonitions of trouble along the way that foreshadowed his eventual demise, drowning in the Mississippi River on a typical lark. If Buckley’s premature passing provides a sobering note, Touched by Grace also serves as the inspirational memoir of a survivor, who continues to thrive as a creative force some 17 years later.
GASTV.MX, November 2014
Review of Gary Lucas and Peter Hammill concert in Mexico City
On November 9th appeared in City Theatre the duo of Peter Hammill and Gary Lucas. Hammill, head of Van der Graaf Generator and a long solo career, is recognized as one of the most complex and complete composers of British rock, while Gary Lucas is a virtuoso guitarist whose style is informed by both the blues and folk wilder as the latest trends in avant-garde music, which is reflected in a career that has taken him to accompany luminaries as Captain Beefheart and Jeff Buckley.
The duo played in full their collaborative album that was released this year, Otherworld, expanding dreamlike atmospheres and emotive songs like "Spinning Coins" and "Of Kith and Kin", while songs like "Some Kind of Fracas" and "This Showbiz" sounded hard and concise.
The baritone Hammill is strong and powerful, but the main attraction of the concert moved to the dialogue between the two guitars: while Hammill laid the foundations with sharp arpeggios, Lucas illustrated the songs with virtuoso performances and fluidity. At times he sounded not as a guitarist but as an orchestra made up of imaginary instruments.
The most difficult and yet interesting moments were reached in the instrumental "Built from Scratch", semi-improvised ambient rock "Glass" and "Slippery Slope" epic live that lasted up to three times more than their studio versions. If only they added two songs to the repertoire of the album ("Primo on the Parapet" Hammill, and the beautiful "The Lady of Shalott" from Lucas), the concert kept the interest of the public for an hour and forty minutes.
This concert, in addition to confirming that the discourse of these veteran musicians has not lost its relevance, shows a disturbing trend in contemporary music: perhaps the most interesting in the world of rock music today is being created by musicians over sixty years. Where is the generational change that reaches levels of intensity as we saw in this concert?
Classic Rock Radio, 25 April 2014
New CD Review
Spotlight: Peter Hammill / Gary Lucas – Other World (Cherry Red Records 2014)
I have to start off by saying that I have heard of these musicians before, but are not an aficionado of either of their collective works. So opening the Peter Hammill / Gary Lucas – Other World CD and giving it a spin was my first real opportunity to hear not only one of these world renown musicians, but both collaborating on a really unique project. I was immediately engrossed and listened to it well over twenty times.
Funny, unaware of what kind of music to expect,Other World starts off with a folk music sound. So much so I told myself “I can't review this. What do I know about British Folk music?" The answer was nothing. By the end of the first song, it sounds like later day Pink Floyd minus Roger Water, including a strong vocal performance that opened my mind for the second offering entitled 'Some Kind Of Fracas'. The music sounds like early psychedelic with the lyrics and vocal performance hypnotizing.
'Other World', a musical collaboration between Peter Hammill / Gary Lucas, is where guitar-driven freestyle flowing music combines with robust singing of well written poetry, sounds, and various vocalizations presenting themselves in ways one can admire and think about. What I said to myself was the evolution of sound turned from British Folk to psychedelic, then ambient which then turned into Avant Garde. Other times simple structured melodic pieces that on a drop of a dime are at home alone and strikingly eerie. I don't want to pigeonhole, saying it's whatever type of music when it's really a variation of styles in which each musician is comfortable with, and capable of highlighting each others performance.
There are stand outs on this for me. 'Attar Of Roses' is one of them. For a few moments my ears are reminded of original guitarist for Yes, the late Peter Banks. 'Black Ice' contains sounds that brought back memories of guitarist Brian May (Queen). Other World, listened to as a collection of separate songs, but as one collective effort and played in the order in which the audio disc was presented, is a cool listening experience. I always find it a pleasure to get turned on to players that are dedicated to their craft.
Rating: I ended up with the new Peter Hammill / Gary Lucas – Other World CD because of my reputation for being a BIG ProgHead. Both of these long standing professional musicians have roots in the same circles I sometimes frequent. Whoever in PR Land that popped this in an envelope and sent it my way, knew based on my listening habits that I dig it. And I do. Yet another example of this is the eighth track on the Other World CD called 'Reboot'. When listening, my thoughts go to early Pink Floyd. A double album: part studio, part live, called Unmagumma (1969). 'Reboot' is worth the price of the CD alone. A very well done instrumental.
Using the one to five star rating system, Uncle G gives the new Peter Hammill / Gary Lucas – Other World studio project: 5 stars!! For me to bust it open knowing nothing about this collaboration, to having played it often for the past two weeks, it obviously has to be good. I recommend securing the CD, playing it on a real stereo, and experiencing it yourself. The music included in Other World varies in musical stylings. Enough so to keep you alert. A treat for music fans who enjoy keeping up with professional musicians, long established, with each having career’s and music catalogs that would impress anyone who found the time to dig in. Uncle G thinks Peter Hammill / Gary Lucus – Other World...something new and refreshing. What mattered most here is that my progressive rock mind, once the incoming signal came in, received its sounds, and just totally got off on what was heard.
Outstanding work Gentlemen. May we have another?
American Correspondent for Classic Rock Radio (Dot EU)
photo by Karen Toftera
HITS Magazine, February 2014
Gary Lucas - "Touched by Grace: My Time With Jeff Buckley" (Jawbone Press)
The world-class guitarist—best-known for his work with Captain Beefheart and his own wide-ranging solo career—looks back on his involvement with the late Jeff Buckley in a book that outlines the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in the business of music circa 1991, back when times were still relatively prosperous. When Lucas was enlisted by Saturday Night Live producer Hal Willner to work with Tim Buckley’s son for a tribute to his father at St. Ann’s Church, it began a tumultuous three-year collaboration that produced a number of remarkable songs, including the title track to Jeff’s one and only album, Grace, and "Mojo Pin," whose title Buckley claimed was a term for shooting up with heroin, much to Gary’s everlasting chagrin. Lucas, who left his cushy gig in CBS Records’ copywriting department in 1990 to pursue his career as a musician to this day, had just signed a recording deal at Columbia for his band Gods and Monsters when he first met Buckley, whom he saw as Robert Plant to his Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger to his Keith Richards. The two hit it off immediately, with Gary’s instrumental compositions proving the perfect vehicle for Buckley’s multi-octave vocals and introspective lyrics, but Jeff’s outsized ambitions couldn’t be contained within a band situation, leaving Lucas on the outside looking in after Buckley inked his own sizable advance contract with Columbia. Gary’s narrative has its own share of sour grapes and some justified bitterness—the dude seems to recall every criticism or slight along the way, with the likes of label execs David Kahne and Steve Berkowitz coming in for some choice jabs. But he never stops believing in, and loving, the mercurial Buckley, even when Jeff employs the prerogatives of those with star quality by using others as stepping stones to his own goal of rock success. Along the way, the erudite Lucas—a Yale graduate, no less—offers a cautionary tale of music business careerism, especially for a cult artist, who must continue to record and tour around the world—where he is a major star in several countries—to survive. He also does a great job of delineating the musical and spiritual connection between him and his erstwhile partner, as well as the premonitions of trouble along the way that foreshadowed his eventual demise, drowning in the Mississippi River on a typical lark. If Jeff Buckley’s premature passing provides a sobering note, Touched by Grace also serves as the inspirational memoir of a survivor, who continues to thrive as a creative force some 17 years later.
— Roy Trakin
Blow-Up (Italy), February 2014
Peter Hammill / Gary Lucas - "Otherworld"
Peter Hammill, the leader of Van Der Graaf Generator and a musician of rare talent and sensibility. Gary Lucas, a few years younger, and one of the most creative and active electric guitarists (but much less well-known as he deserves, unfortunately) of the last quarter century, with a book of experiences and hard to fade amount of work he's generated and his eclecticism, and it is really ungenerous that he ends up in the chronicles cited almost always only as a member of the Magic Band of Captain Beefheart, and for his role of artistic godfather to Jeff Buckley ("Mojo Pin" and "Grace" are co-written by both). The encounter between the Englishman and the American basically is not unlikely, and originated in their "Other World" album, which is a collection of songs and recitations (plus some instrumentals) with only vocals and guitars, more or less "treated" and just... It would therefore be legitimate to think of something pretentious and preposterous, but beyond the occasional lull the album proves to be intense and full of charm in these songs melodic and graceful, in those where a vein is clear and emphatic and also in their lively soundscapes where the blues — the great love of Lucas — are transformed in many different ways. Not always illuminated by the sun but overflowing with suggestions, this "Other World" is an inspired meeting between minimalism and grandeur, without any thrust of difficulty. Those who appreciate the concept of the latest evidence of Scott Walker but find its practical implementation too tiring have the excellent possibility of being bewitched here.
From Julia Crowe, Author of My First Guitar: Tales of True Love and Lost Chords (ECW Press)
Peter Hammill / Gary Lucas - "Otherworld"
Other World (Cherry Red Records), a newly released album by Van der Graaf Generator’s Peter Hammill and former Captain Beefheart guitarist Gary Lucas, is an aptly-named collaboration of phantasmagoric, shape-shifting guitar brilliance paired with Hammill’s stark voice, which emerges from the sonic mists of stripped-down folk ballads to offer a wry look at the vagaries of time, love and life the music business. Highlights include: “Built from Scratch,” with Lucas coaxing forth a thrum of lyrical shadows and harmonics, which Hammill floats with Doppler-esque ripples and eerie palettes of sound texture. Set against a sassy guitar groove, the song “This is Showbiz” creates a memorable portrait of a stoically enduring performer who sings with renewed meaning after unexpectedly glimpsing a beloved face within the audience. The instrumental “Attar of Roses” features a sinuous guitar melody drawn into a blooming collage of delicate steel strings that envelops and embraces the ears with sweet resonance. Other World is a wild yet seamless fusion of musical depth and rich color between two distinctly original artists.
MAX Magazine (Italy), January 2014
Peter Hammill / Gary Lucas - "Otherworld"
An album that indeed seems to come from another planet. "Strange and yet full of energy," said Peter Hammill as wisely. The brilliant poet and singer of Van Der Graaf Generator, is co-responsible with guitarist Gary Lucas for this truly innovative album.
Two enormous talents, the American guitarist able to paint cubist notes a la Captain Beefheart, Avantgarde blues, hints of ice and metal, contemporary noise. Lucas in "Some Kind of Fracas" creates an environment for a unique voice with the intensity of Hammill, and is at ease even in the Beefheartiana of "Black Ice". From his guitar falls liquid notes on the ballad of Hamill "Of Kith and Kin" or the heartbreaking "Spinning Coins". "Attar of Roses" with the guitars of the infinite shades and refractions of the seductions of a garden in Kyoto. Insanely erotic and instrumental tapes to the contrary; spring waters. During a recent dinner spent with Peter Hammill on his recent seminar in Piacenza, he tells me that for him this sunrise was a "fortunate mixture of songs and sounds." I believe that nothing better defines a seductive and innovative album like this. Guitars, abstract landscapes, breathtaking texts (as always when a true poet as Hammill gathers in the field), spectral songs, layers, all conspire to create something unexpectedly powerful and disarming. Simple and elegant: complex and unusual at the same time. SURELY AN ALBUM THAT WILL LIVE IN HISTORY.