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Schiermann - 'Schiermann' Album Review

1. Weniger Zeit

2. Northern Lights

3. Stygian Path

4. Amarantine

5. Flexuous

6. Technical Disabilities

7. A New Day

This and the Adrifft album whose review is at time of writing still not finished arrived with me in relatively quick succession, I'd like to think it's because my opinion is so important, but, rather than dwell on my own colossal ego, let's get to the meat and potatoes here...

Schiermann is the brainchild of guitarist Chris Schiermann and was recorded at his home studio (apparently a frequent haunt of bands like TesseracT, Disperse and Animals As Leaders when they are on tour). The music is, for the most part, entirely instrumental, evoking a range of different feels and musical textures, with some impressive lead guitar parts that carry the tunes along, very busy at times early in the album and technically well constructed throughout, definitely one to listen to if you appreciate impressive guitar acrobatics. I have never been the kind of listener that likes to listen to other guitarists showing their (admittedly impressive) chops with the exception of an emotional hook or human connection in the music, so the fact that some of this music as I drew towards the middle of the album did give me genuine moments of "Oh that's very nice" along with "How in the name of Fripp does one get that good at playing the guitar?" was most gratifying.

One cannot help but be impressed by the work and attention to detail that has gone into this album, at times (particularly early on the album) brutal and full of jump cuts but at others showing a melodic intelligence that I found disarming. The music is, incredibly complex at times but never messy because of this, a tour-de-force of instrumental prowess leaving no space that is not intentional, at times reminding me of such musical masters as Rush, Iron Maiden and Pink Floyd.

For me, despite all that has gone before, the highlight is the song which was added as a bonus track (A New Day) featuring vocals from Ashe O'Hara it shows Chris Schiermann's music can indeed lend itself fantastically to the support of a vocal and is as strong in repose as it is in full brutal onslaught mode. Here we have something approaching the kind of sound one would find in some of the earlier solo work of current King Crimson frontman Jakko Jakszyck, a song which again features a mourning sax provided by Adrian Terrazas-Gonzales (who also pops up on "Stygian Path"), I feel that it would not be exaggeration to say this song is a dual interlocking guitar solo section away from being a current King Crimson Project (from me this is the highest possible praise imaginable).

So while the entire album is very instrumentally adventurous and worth a listen or three for that alone if this is your musical preference, for me the final "bonus track" is the reason I will probably be going back to this album again. This may mean I gloss over the 6 tracks that make up the album proper on occasional future listens, which is a travesty when you consider the work which has been put into it and the musicianship on show, but so be it, I've had a lot of fun immersed in Chris Schiermann's music and I think others will agree.

Review - Mike McLaughlin

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