Dave Kulju | Abstract Expression

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Rock: Progressive Rock Rock: Instrumental Rock Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Abstract Expression

by Dave Kulju

Instrumental Progressive Rock with a lemon fresh scent.
Genre: Rock: Progressive Rock
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. Internal Combustion
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4:42 $0.99
2. Don't Mind Me
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4:35 $0.99
3. Hieland Road
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4:32 $0.99
4. Pleiades
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5:38 $0.99
5. Depth of Autumn
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5:57 $0.99
6. Picnic at the Slag Heap
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2:19 $0.99
7. The Main Attraction
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5:18 $0.99
8. Somnium
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15:16 $0.99
9. The Water Discipline
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4:59 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Dave Kulju's "Abstract Expression" is a collection of 9 instrumental compositions that explore various textures and styles with a progressive vibe. While experimental enough for progressive music fans, this album places a heavy focus on strong melodies, well crafted songwriting, and unusual but infectious grooves. Listeners will be rewarded with hard driving pieces like "Internal Combustion" and "The Main Attraction" but also treated to more contemplative works like "Pleiades" and "The Depth of Autumn". The charm of the quirky and unpredictable are well represented in "Picnic at the Slag Heap" and the lengthy "Somnium".

Dave, guitarist and keyboard player for the band Electrum, is an independent musician who wrote, recorded, and produced this album in his home studio working with a number of talented guest musicians.

Album Credits
Produced and Engineered by Dave Kulju

Dave Kulju
Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Bass Guitar, Drum Kit, Guitar Synthesizer, Keyboards & Programming.

Guest Musicians

Frank Basile
Drum Kit on "Pleiades", "Depth of Autumn", "Picnic at the Slag Heap" & "The Main Attraction".

Bryan Powers
Drum Kit on "Internal Combustion" & "Don't Mind Me".

Joel Mahathy
Theremin & Guitar solo on "Picnic at the Slag Heap".

Douug Upton
Organ solo on "Somnium".

Ian Cameron
Violin on "Pleiades".

Recorded & Mixed June 2005 - April 2007 at Electrum Studios North.

Cover Art Paintings "Bōdin" & "Torin" by Phil Clute.

All songs by Kulju except "The Main Attraction" by Young, Upton & Kulju.


Reviews


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Steve Roberts (ZNR Records)

Guitar playing is second to none... recording is extremely tight
Fantastic solo album from Electrum guitarist Kulju. Continuing in the "power trio" vein of his group but leaning far more towards the fusion side of things, "Abstract Expression" is a powerhouse! Dave's music is similar in feel to recordings made by the likes of Steve Vai, Joe Satriani or Eric Johnson. This is perhaps somewhat more in line with the prog tradition as Kulju grew up listening to all the 70s prog greats like Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, Rush and Gentle Giant. This is not to say that his music sounds like any of those artists (though maybe a little Rush seeps through now & then) but you can hear in the foundations some of the elements that made those bands so interesting. The guitar playing is second to none & the recording is extremely tight and crisp for an independent release. If you like guitar-centric instrumental progressive rock you will certainly enjoy this fine CD!

Dag Fjellby

Dave Kulju – ”Abstract Expression” – a fantastic CD!
Guitar playing is awesome, second to none. Very good melodies, very good sound and a thigh production. The band plays elegant together.
Dave Kulju's "Abstract Expression" is IMHO a CD you HAVE to own if you’re a fan of progressive music. It’s very melodic, and the more you here it, the better it gets! Simply great. I will recommend this CD to all progressive music lovers out there, and to all that also loves strong melodies and fabulous guitar solos. 5 Stars! Highly recommended.

Rick from Aural Moon

AE is a wonderful instrumental record that never bores
Here's a review of "Abstract Expression", a new CD from Dave Kulju. I picked this up without knowing anything about it being released. I have the Electrum "Standard Deviation" CD, and find that fairly interesting. That's Dave with a couple of bandmates from 2002. It's kind of fusion, but a bit more experimental.

Having a bit of prejudice about what I was expecting, I was thrown off. AE is a wonderful instrumental record that never bores. Dave brings some great ideas and mixes them with some unusual patterns that makes a winning combination.

The CD opens with "Internal Combustion", which is representative of the great fusion discs. It has a bouncy, happy driving feel like a Frank Gambale piece. However, most of the instruments are Dave (except for Bryan Powers on drums, this tune and next) - that gives it more of a song structure instead of a wankfest. The use of keys in the bridges is a great touch. Some soloing throughout, but not overbearing. A great opener.

"Don't Mind Me" is a song that takes you back a few years in its style. A nice, easy start with lots of full chords and piano (I'm a sucker for piano). The connections between verses are very post-Counterparts Rush, with the bounce on the bass and the full guitar. About the three-minute mark Dave throws in a ass-kicking solo, just when you get comfortable. There's a lot of this surprise on AE, some unusual patterns. I find this almost a necessity on an instrumental record to keep the interest throughout. The Rush-guitar reappears to finish off the song.

"Hieland Road" trades off on alternately complex and simple verses. It appears from the liner notes that this is a one-man song. The midsection has a little "YYZ" action...you'll understand when you hear it. After that another sweet lead, one of the best I've heard here. Supported beautifully by the drumming and the acoustic guitar. Another winner of a song.

"Pleiades" (not the King's X song!) meanders until a nice lead about the two and a half minute mark, then another fast lead at four minutes changes thing up yet again. Back to the main theme after that, it's over before you realize.

"Depth of Autumn" starts off slow, then moves into a standard fusion verse (I hear Gambale, Morse, etc again). It says Ian Cameron plays violin on the last cut, but I hear him here. Error in the liner notes or my ears? Yet another nice, subtle lead comes in to save the song when it starts to drag. Frank Basile's drumming on this is excellent. He plays drums on cuts 4-7.

"Picnic At the Slag Heap" is a two-minute hoot. Joel Mahathy does a Goodsall impression on a ripping lead, supported by Theremin (also played by Joel). A good one to keep you on your toes.

"The Main Attraction" has a carnival-like organ line that is the basis for the first verse. It's not exactly 4/4, but I can't tell you what it is (I'm not a musician). I was starting to have this song figured out, but it changes consistently throughout and you need to pay attention to follow it. That makes sense after I read that it's the only collaboratively written song. The chorus reminds of something, but I'll probably figure it out next year. If I had to compare the song to anything, it would fit well on a Djam Karet record. A song that I thought would bore me but turned out to be one of the best on the CD.

"Somnium" is 15 minutes in length. Doug Upton plays a bit of Organ, but otherwise it's all Dave. The Electrum disc has a long Kulju-penned song also. That is heavier at the beginning and the end, a bit bombastic, with a long mellow middle section.This song is quite different. After a minute or so of setup, a standard evil sounding very Prog theme appears. Several shape-shifts continue, keeping the song very Prog and very interesting. It's a demanding piece on the ear. Evil theme comes back briefly at the five-minute mark, then a nice, short National Health part. Up to seven and a half it rocks, then it crashes into a wall...with some nice keyboard-dominated passages for a few more minutes. Then crank it up! We're taken home with some exciting music, including the Organ solo and some fine combinations of guitar and keys, especially the closing guitar solo (before the theme refrain). A song that will be on your shuffle for a long time (not mine...I don't own an ipod).

Closing out the disc is "The Water Discipline". Another solo effort, it's sort of Pastoral, that is very inoffensive. A great song to hear while just waking up camping. I think it's a drum machine, but it doesn't detract from the song.

I usually don't have time to write reviews, but this is a CD that needs some love. I hope you find it as rewarding to hear as I do. Thanks to Dave for a great effort, and hope that his next one is easier to find than this one!

Pete Pardo

Abstract Expression is a fun listen, highly melodic, and recommended
Abstract Expression, the new solo album from Electrum guitarist Dave Kulju, is a solid collection of fusion and prog-rock songs that shows his love for bands like The Dixie Dregs, Genesis, Mike Oldfield, Rush, Echolyn, and Kansas. All instrumental, and not just a "guitar lovers" experience, Abstract Expression blends many styles and moods, proving that Kulju has a penchant for songwriting in addition to his fine guitar and keyboard skills. There's plenty of tasty playing here, but for the most part things are sort of restrained, so don't expect a "chops-zilla" type of environment.

Highlights are the 15-minute prog epic "Somnium", with no shortage of complex guitar & keyboard interplay, the meeting of Mellotron & Dregs-ish fusion on "Hieland Road", the raucous "Internal Combustion", and the calming ambient/jazz textures of "The Water Discipline". Dave has some friends helping him out with some various parts throughout the album, but for the most part it's him playing all the instruments, and he does a good job. Abstract Expression is a fun listen, highly melodic, and recommended to those who like instrumental progressive rock with a touch of jazz-fusion.

Forrest Rapier

Very good, but not great.
This album is full of original ideas and incredibly talented playing, but some songs can drag on (rarely). Buy it.