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Clark, Paul: Shredz at an Exhibition

I sit here in awe as I listen to this work. What is most awe inspiring to me, and probably to all the other wannabe shred guitarists out there is the notion that you can still find the time and energy to create, perform and produce an accomplished work of this nature despite the fact that it (the project) ranks maybe fifth on the totem pole of your life. See, Paul Clark, (Clarky) 40 something year old virtuoso musician, also holds down a full time high tech job, has raised a family with two kids, and has been a member of the David Cross band (X-King Crimson) since 1994. The notion that he somehow had the time to develop the chops, as well as the creational and organizational skills to pull this together with everything else going on simultaneously is in a word mind-boggling. Let's review how it came to pass shall we?

Paul [aka Clarky] is most noted as the lead guitarist for The David Cross Band [David is a former member of the pioneering progressive rock band King Crimson]. Paul however also has gained some renown as an instrumental rock / metal guitarist writing and recording solo material. Paul studied classical music ranging from the 16th to 20th centuries at the University of London, and has endeavored to incorporate this knowledge into his own unique compositional and playing style. Over the years, Paul's musical education also included stints in many bands in many diverse styles such as blues rock, heavy metal, funk, reggae, progressive rock and fusion. In 1994, Paul was first approached to join the David Cross Band. Since that time, he has performed on several albums and international tours playing David Cross' own brand of passionate and complex progressive rock music along with some of King Crimson's classic tracks as well. The Paul arranged much heavier version of "21st century Schizoid Man"in particular is a thing of beauty!

Around 2000, Paul developed the concept and started writing his first solo instrumental album to be called Shredz at an Exhibition. The album, ultimately released in late 2006 consists of 7 pieces, each based upon a famous painting essentially narrating the story in that painting. The project was initially finished in 4 track demo form by the end of 2002 however numerous interruptions including recording and touring stints with David Cross, delayed the release until now. It must be recognized that this truly was a Herculean solo effort involving countless hours to write, record, program, mix and engineer. It was worth the wait. The results are stunning. As good as anything else out there.

The first painting, "Rape of The Sabine Women" builds majestically over a synth intro with some of the crunchiest chords you have ever heard. The solos are at first very melodic, lyrical and Satch-like in nature (see, Joe is a hero of Paul's) and then come on in waves and cascades of intense fiery bursts. The fury of the piece is briefly interrupted with a couple of quiet introspective interludes. Paul is indeed a fire breathing monster of a player.

"Raft of The Medusa" continues the onslaught with a piercing scream of a vibrato intro introducing a death march sort of a chord progression. The piece is punctuated by a very European sounding ( Schenkerish, methinks Michael is also an influence) solo onslaught. Once again wave after wave of searing guitar fury (hey it is called Shredz) over a deadly rhythm track.

"Requiem" allows us a brief respite from the fury to catch our breath. A gorgeous emotionally building piece, in the tradition of say rock era Gary Moore, proving that Paul can also hold and bend a note or two with the best of them.

"The Chosen One" creeps in with a sinister sounding synth intro to some harsh crunchy chords. Another lyrical Satch like solo ensues leading us into more fury and shred mayhem. I hear a few more Schenker nods in there.

"Artaud: On The Fringe of Insanity" starts with some delicate finger picking accompanied with some gorgeous melodic soloing and guitar tone to die for. The intricate pattern builds with controlled playing to a climax and fierce flurry of shred mayhem, never straying from the emotional central theme.

On "Virtus Junxit Mars Non Seperatbit" Paul pulls out the classical training for a poignant delicate interlude before his ultimate exhibit of fury "The Beheading of John The Baptist".

"John" is a 15 plus minute concept piece unto itself. Comprised of three parts i)The dance of Salome, ii)The Promise of Herod and iii) The Beheading of John the Baptist. The piece starts slowly over a soft synth intro with an initial flurry of piercing guitar notes. This passage leads into another short lyrical Satch-like interlude interspersed with furious crunch chords. The section ultimately builds to an ascended peak and morphs into a melodic passage (The Promise?). Ultimately fury comes to the head again and we are bombarded with the heaviest music on the album gradually guiding us to a furious crescendo and ending. Listen, there is shredding galore in this piece however it is not at all gratuitous but very centered on telling the story. If I was pressed to compare Paul to other shredders out there I would chose Marcel Coenens the dutch master who like Paul honed his heavy metal heart over a foundation of classical training and progressive rock influences. A magnificent first effort indeed Paul, you have reason to be proud! Plus you just gotta love a dude who names his guitars after the seven deadly sins!!

Track Listing

Added: January 10th 2007
Reviewer: Mike Blackburn
Related Link: Paul Clark Website
Hits: 2804
Language: english

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