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Tony MACALPINE: "Chromaticity"  
Shrapnel 2001 

Review by Endre "Bandi" Hübner <> 23 July 2001 <>

When buying a new MacAlpine album the only question is the position of the Chopin etude (this time it's track 10); the rest is assured: high quality instrumental guitar rock with technical perfection, breathtaking guitar and keyboard scales, clear arrangement and extraordinary musicianship. As Tony's hair is disappearing slowly, his arrangements get more and more vivid (not that I would want to search for ANY kind of connection to cosmetic features). 

"Christmas Island" opens the album and it pleases any old MacAlpine fan as well as it might convince those who found his songs/albums dull and repetitive. Some tempo and arrangement changes make the tune lively and the grand piano scales hidden in the overall arrangement do good to the song, not to mention some of the new keyboard sounds never heard on his albums before. The title track is basically what it says it is; a big bunch of chromatic scales based on some weird tempo and pattern changing drum tracks. Steve Smith (drums) will surely give a headache to those who want to cover some songs of the new MacAlpine album. The first real highlight of the album is "City Beneath The Sea"; this song is the grandchild of Tony's most successful song ever "Tears of Sahara". Note my word: this song is classic in the making! We'll talk about it in 10 years, just like we talk about "Tears of Sahara". 

"Digitalis Destructi" showcases the less digestible side of Tony, even though the bridge of the song is probably the most straightforward part of the whole album. The rest of the track is a bit hard to get into; but I just can't help to love the acoustic piano scales towards the end, nice contrast to the overall mood of the song. "Isis" features some great keyboard sounds again, scales that get right into your heart, good choice to follow the hard-to-get track. "Prince Of Light" is another straightforward instrumental anthem in the early MacAlpine vein, old fans will love it; "Still Valley" has some drum patterns that sound almost impossible to play, Steve is one hell of a drummer and he took part of the production of the album too. Well, as for the drum sound all over the album, some of the cymbals, especially the rides sound a bit too loud for my taste, but it might just be me. The guitar works of the song are probably the furthest away from the "usual" MacAlpine approach, but "Avenger" is the typical MacAlpine track again with uptempo scaling, throttling drum-bass base and speeding keyboard solos. Lots of pitch-wheel bending tricks make the keyboards sound like guitars with some weird digital effects. "Eye of the Soul" starts out as a ballad, the double bass-drum is a bit strange but one just gotta love the crunchy rhythm guitar parts. After the intro the song turns into a hard rocking number with lots of tempo changes and drum breaks; gotta admit I prefer the intro to them. The Chopin etude is the last track this time and I can't help wondering whether there is something wrong with the mastering of the album here. It is not loud enough and one has to turn the volume up to take full pleasure of Tony's scales that roll out from under his fingers like pearls. Do yourselves a favor and make sure to turn the volume up! This is a very good instrumental album altogether again. Had there been some more songs in the vein of "Tears of Atlantis" ... errrm ... I mean "City Beneath The Sea" and "Prince Of Light" my rating would have been closer to the perfect 10.

You can Pre-Order Chromaticity through any of these online stores.