It's always cool when a guitarist can break out of his role as a fancy, complex player in a progressive-metal band and just get back to his instrument's roots. That's what Sean Gill — axe man for Strange Land, a Wisconsin band with a distinct Rush-meets-King's X sound — does on the lyrically titled October Dust. On this solo acoustic CD, released in 2003 and "recorded at home with whatever was on hand," Gill reveals the humorous and sensitive sides that other metal musicians refuse to show. He messes with the mood throughout, and songs like "Dust Rising (and I'm Gone)" and "In the Confined Space of a Peanut" perfectly reflect the tone of their titles. He also engages in some mysterious tapping on "Through These Windows/Somewhere Else" and aggressive strumming on "Midnight Train." At its core, however, October Dust is a very laid-back disc.
The record closes with two songs recorded live in Montana's Glacier National Park in June 2000. "Walking on a Glacier in June" was inspired by "a grizzly bear and maybe some mountains," Gill tells the audience, while "The Road Song" is a peaceful ode to the lonely life of a musician. This is an album in which subtle substance trumps all.
2) Dust Rising (and I'm Gone)
3) Clean Break
4) In the Confined Space of a Peanut
5) Mesa Moon
6) You Can't Get There From Here
7) Midnight Train
8) Through These Windows/Somewhere Else
9) Walking on a Glacier in June
10) The Road Song