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Campbell; Neil: Tabula Rasa Suite

Looking round the internet, it's interesting to find reviews for Neil Campbell's solo work featuring on progressive rock and metal sites, say, such as this very one here. However what Mr. Campbell from Liverpool, England, creates isn't progressive rock, in fact it isn't rock at all, with contemporary classical guitar maybe a more fitting title. As such it may not really be something that currently features on your listening lists and the like, and yet if you've ventured into the world of Steve Hackett's classical guitar work, then the parallels are plain to see. However Campbell isn't hoping to recreate something already carved out; instead with Tabula Rasa Suite this wonderfully gifted guitarist has crafted a personal journey that is remarkably easy to engage with, while remaining stubbornly attention holding.

Having recently relocated near to Liverpool's Sefton Park, Campbell wanted to capture his change in surrounds, the park offering up natural, playful, gently engaging sounds with which to while away hours. Through the recording skills of Manuella Blackburn, Campbell has woven the sounds of the park - rain, thunder, birdsong and children simply having fun - throughout his playing, making poignant music uplifting and warming, even as the rain figuratively pitter patters on your parade. The joy of what Campbell himself provides is the manner in which he holds the imagination through sounds which in the wrong hands could be seen as melancholy; instead the beauty of the scenes intended comes across so strongly that it's easy to imagine the settings and happenings played out in front of Campbell's window even before you read the short liner notes which confirm the intentions.

Those looking for anything raucous, or even upbeat will be left grasping here, for this is reserved and intricate fare which never even hints at a boisterous side, but taken in the right moments, that is the very strength which makes this album a real joy with which to engage. The ten part suite itself is, at around the 30 minute mark is rather short, however the addition of the value adding and utterly wonderful Trois Gymnopédies is an excellent inclusion. This version differs just enough from the traditional piano interpretation to have its own character, yet remains true enough to the piece it portrays to still have the same impact.

Not necessarily the release you may have been expecting to read about on a site as likely to feature Black Metal as it is Progressive masterworks. However if you try your hand at one unexpected delight this year, (even though it was released last year…) then make it Neil Campbell and his wonderful Tabula Rasa Suite.

Track Listing 2. II
3. III
4. IV
5. V
6. VI
7. VII
9. IX Tor
10. Gymnopedie No.1
11. Gymnopedie No.2
12. Gymnopedie No.3

Added: March 1st 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Neil Campbell online
Hits: 1596
Language: english

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