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Brown, Charles: Explorer of Life

Charles Brown is a name that has escaped me in progressive rock circles. The guitarist has made a number of albums beginning with Mystics released in 2000. He returned in 2015 with Wind of the Eastern Sea. His latest is titled Explorer of Life. I believe this is his seventh or eighth release.

This is instrumental guitar rock that transitions through different moods and textures as Brown proves to be a fine player. Melodic hard rock with touches of fusion and progressive can be heard through these nine tracks. The title track begins the album with catchy keyboards and soaring guitar. There is just the right amount of guitar crunch before some dreamy instrumentation ensues. Next is "Parallel Journey" featuring calm guitar arpeggios before the heaviness builds to dramatic effect. Another dreamy guitar led section leads to more guitar pyrotechnics. Brown is a versatile player displaying both nuance and heavier shredding styles. Some of the mellower sections reminded me of Floyd at times. "Ecliptic Voyage" begins with ethereal soundscapes before turning into a classic hard rock/metal sound with a really catchy riff progression. With "New Horizon" a mellow beginning ventures into heavier territory displaying excellent guitar chops and fine keyboard work. There is a hint of fusion in this one as the music traverses a melodic hard rock landscape. For a nice change of pace Bach's "Prelude (From Cello Suite #1)" features lovely acoustic guitar demonstrating just how versatile a player Brown is.

Explorer of Life is a nice listen and is definitely recommended for fans of guitar centric instrumental music with the emphasis on hard rock with the occasional progressive twist. I look forward to hearing more of what Brown has to offer.

Track Listing:
1. Explorer of Life (4:35)
2. Parallel Journey (5:38)
3. Ecliptic Voyage (6:43)
4. New Horizon (5:04)
5. Prelude (From Cello Suite #1) (2:40)
6. Above The Mist (3:36)
7. Wind Of Darkness Suite
i. Wind Of Darkness (4:39)
ii. The Darkest Night (3:05)
8. Spectral Voyage (4:23)
9. When The Sun Rises (2:15)

Added: December 17th 2017
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Facebook Page
Hits: 1267
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Brown, Charles: Explorer of Life
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2017-12-16 19:05:34
My Score:

Best known to fans of guitar led instrumental music, Charles Brown has long been forging ahead with a sound that marks him out as an interesting and individual addition to the instrumental progressive scene. Relying more on texture, tone and mood to convey his message, Brown sidesteps many of the tropes anticipated from this genres, while still operating within an area that should find a liking with a broad section of prog and rock enthusiasts. Brown also has chops and on opener and title track, "Explorer Of Life" he has no issue in proving so, his frets ablaze with a technical dexterity that while impressive, never looks to detract from what is a pleasingly song based approach. Handling most of the instruments himself, it's only the expert keyboard interjections from Steve Espinosa which prevents an album which seeks to explore the meaning and brilliance of life and the journey and experiences it provides, from being a one-man effort.

Having had his music previously used in films, providing a wordless narrative proves a skill Brown can reveal at will, the energetic burst of "Parallel Journey" much more welcoming than much music from a similar setting. "Ecliptic Voyage" possesses a few more crushing riffs but it's also one of the most restrained pieces, floating themes and a more mystical edge provided, while the poised acoustic guitar version of "Prelude" from cello suite #1 by Bach, is a beautiful scene changer. The moody "Above The Mist" finds keyboards taking equal billing as an enigmatic air is conjured, before the two part "Wind Of Darkness Suite" evolves into the centre piece of the album, growing as it does from intricate beginnings into a proud metallic strut; all the while retaining a keen technical edge that never allows the mind to wander. Together, these two pieces, which are presented as one, are an excellent snapshot of the varied, rich and rewarding fare you can expect to find on Explorer Of Life, the emotion behind each piece much more key in the success of this album than the undoubted talent that's also on display throughout.

With his latest album Charles Brown has not only created something that will satisfy the desires of instrumental guitar fans but also that of progressive rock follower who are willing to let the music do the talking. Something that this underrated musician is unquestionably adept at.

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