For anyone who doesn't know Bruce Main; he has an solid background in many elements (pun intended) of music. Bruce was a founding member of- Medusa, an American northwest progressive rock band in the 1970's. He played lead guitar with The Eddies, a rock band as well as Mania, a prog metal group- again from the northwest He has been part owner and chief engineer of commercial recording studios, a live sound and systems engineer doing shows for everyone from Bob Hope to Slayer and a sound system designer working on projects including everything from NFL stadiums to clubs, theaters and churches.
So does his new album reflect his impressive resume? That's a difficult question to answer with a simple yes or no. If you are looking for cutting edge progressive music, or Sleepytime Gorilla Museum or Present, then look elsewhere. And of course subjective is subjective... but for proggers that don't mind melody, fear not; Bruce Main creates solid rock music, which leans towards the less heavy, with strong progressive undertones.
Bruce Main is a prolific composer who has released an album each year from 2004-06. He is an excellent guitarist who doesn't push the edge, but creates well-crafted and very listenable solos (ala David Gilmour), along with nice acoustic work. His compositions are pleasing to the ear. The `Elements' CD doesn't explore any radical departures from Main's previous releases, but it does contain a loose environmental theme- possibly influenced by his trip to Nome, Alaska in 2006. Voices are well done by Mark Phraner and specially Freddie Krumins.
Though the first two tracks didn't impress me in a grip you by the throat way, they are solid pieces that lead you into the meat and potatoes in which the three impressive middle tracks reside, making this album a must buy. The first- `Feel the Rain,' is a sad ballad about a farmer's fields drying up until it does rain. Yet it still comes through as a strikingly beautiful song with excellent piano by Bruce Jones and Hackett-esque trappings by Mr. Main. This simple, yet gorgeous song leads the listener into the more proggier tunes.
My favorite track showcases Bruce's sense of humor, about a scary subject- global warming. Entitled `Arctic Toast,' the track is the quirkiest and is almost annoyingly too ear-catching. This is tongue and cheek melodic prog at it's finest.
After a fine track called `Things of Earth,' with solid vocals and some nice bass clarinet, the longest track- the 14 plus minute `Red Flags.' Excellent performances and some nice tempo and style changes within the composition. The melodies grow on you. One thing I would love to hear is a bit more dynamics... which IMHO is essential for longer compositions.
Being a newbie to Bruce Main's background, I was unaware of his engineering savvy and hence was pleasantly surprised by the excellent production on `Elements.' I would have liked to hear more pop in the mix, especially during solos, but the album has a nicely mastered feel without too many layers and over dubs. The CD has a greater band `presence' than previous Main releases. It would be nice to see this group of talented musician fuse their melodic compositions with lengthier solos and instrumental passages. The songwriting is strong enough to hold up.
Graphic-wise, I have to be honest, though I'll give it points for being differet, I hate the front cover. The periodic table is terribly dull and totally would turn me off if I was a casual buyer in my local music store, especially knowing that it is a very personal album by a talented songwriter.
Nevertheless, Bruce Main's `Elements' album took a while to get used to, as I am not always into the mellow prog mood, but after a couple plays, I was hooked. This is a good album to get the easy listener into light prog. This is also an artist to follow, as he is constantly striving to get better and with this CD, it is evident that it is his strongest work yet. Reccomended!
Rated 8.7/10 (and higher if like the- light Prog/singer-songwriter genre.
In der Ruhe liegt die Kraft!
Bruce Main will niemandem mehr etwas beweisen und macht was ihm Spass macht. Und wenn man das so offensichtlich auf seinem dritten "Solo-Album" hört, dann ist das alleine eine positive Einschätzung wert.
Der US-Amerikaner trommelt ein paar alte Weggefährten zusammen und produziert in seinem "Home-Recording" Studio relaxte, leichtfüssige Rock-Songs, die eingängig sind, aber nicht platt, die hardrockig sind, aber nicht klischeehaft, die proggy sind, aber nicht symphonisch-bombastisch. In der Tradition eines Steve Hackett, eines Ant Phillips, in Teilen an Camel erinnernd, musiziert Bruce Main "altertümlich" anmutend, aber nicht alt klingend. Die Musik wird mit einer Prise (europäischen) Folk durchzogen, es gibt Einflüsse aus 70er Jahre "Hard-"Rock Combos, zumindest lassen diese Gedanken ein "Shouter" Namens Freddy Krumins und so manche "dreckige" Gitarrenpassage zu. Insgesamt aber ist da ein gewisser "akustischer" Sound, der den roten Faden für Elements spinnt. Viele Piano-Läufe, viele ruhige Passagen, mal jubilierende, mal akustische Gitarren; in Things Of Earth eine wahrlich betörende Bass-Klarinette und so fort.
Die Stimmungen bewegen sich zwischen fröhlich beschwingt und melancholisch, nicht aber schwermütig. Geschickt werden "Retro-Versatzstücke" in den Sound verwoben. Mal gibt es angedeutete "Gentle Giant Vocal Akrobatik" (Arctic Toast), "Genesis-Gimmicks" im Longtrack Red Flags, oder einfach nur wunderschöne, hymnische, aber nicht kitschige Singer/Songwriter Balladen (Feel The Rain).
In aller Ruhe haben Bruce Main und seine Kameraden ein Album eingespielt, dass mal wieder Progger und "normale" Leute unter einen Hut kriegen könnte. Eine völlig unaufgeregte Prock-Scheibe aus den USA, die vielleicht etwas stark nach Europa klingt (was so mancher Progger als positiv empfindet), die womöglich etwas mehr "Saft" vertragen könnte - oder aber Bruce Main wollte den Sound so "authentisch" wie möglich halten. Das wäre ihm vollauf gelungen. Ein wirklich schönes Stück Musik, dass niemanden in wilde Raserei verfallen lassen muss, aber auf hochwertige Weise unterhält und Spass macht. Empfohlen!