"Chromaticity" (Shrapnel; 2001)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Tony MacAlpine, master of both guitar and keyboard, returns with "Chromaticity" which has a promise on the promotional sticker that he has returned to the 'intense neo-classical style that established him as one of the most innovative musicians of our time.' Also, the note suggests that the disc contains 'aggressive rock and fusion compositions' like that of his original run with Shrapnel Records in the '80s.

Even after one casual listening of "Chromaticity" it's obvious that MacAlpine has retained his original sound that hasn't been duplicated by anyone since his arrival on the scene lo so many years ago. The classical leanings of MacAlpine's tunes are often a bit overwhelming, but then again it's what sets him apart from other guitar slingers. MacAlpine's style has matured over the years with a little more funk and jazziness in his compositions – but that's to be expected when he's been doing projects like CAB.

Overall, it took more than a few listens to really get into "Chromaticity." The music is great, as is to be expected, it's just that the music didn't stick with me until I had a chance to really listen to the songs without any distractions. The title track has jazz-like approach that is truly deserving of the 'innovative' moniker that has been placed upon him. "Digitalis Destructi" is a weird but pleasing mix of technical wizardry and funky overtones. "Isis" contains some of his more mature and skillful lead playing atop a relaxed vamp. "Still Valley" reminds me of the kind of songs Chris Poland has been playing recently. "Eye Of The Soul" is a nice, understated way to end the guitar portion of the CD and the disc closes with a piano piece (a common inclusion to MacAlpine’s instrumental efforts).

Overall, I enjoy listening to "Chromaticity" very much. I just know it's not something that is going to find its way off the shelf for repeated listenings.

"Chromaticity" was produced by Tony MacAlpine and Steve Smith. The production is quite good although I sometimes think the tone on MacAlpine's guitar is a bit thin and weak given that it could stand out a little bit more in the mix.

Tony MacAlpine is joined by the very talented Barry Sparks on bass and rhythmic genius Steve Smith on drums.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:59:46 -0400.