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Friday, January 16, 2009

What's it gonna take to get noticed these days?

If you're George Bellas, it takes a lot.

I think the postmen in Finland must be underpaid. Lion Music used to send out their album promos in the mail quite unprotected in nothing but paper sleeves, and some of them that arrived in my mailbox looked like they had been smashed with a hammer. It doesn't take a huge amount of force to crack a CD, but it does to smash one into many pieces. These postmen must be venting all of their salary frustrations on the Lion Music promos. In any case, Lion Music recently stopped sending out promos in the mail, and have opted for a new digital download system. One of their recent offerings is a new album by George Bellas, his second release in 2008 if anybody is keeping track.

When I casually glanced at the new album on the Lion Music download center I noticed that this Bellas album only had one track available for download, and thought to myself that it must be a promo song for his upcoming album or something which is not uncommon to see in the music business. After the download started I walked away and came back several minutes later and it was still only about 10% done. "Hmm, Surely it would have been done by now. I do have broadband," I said to myself. It was then I realized that there was something special here, because after going back to look again track 1 on the disk was 75 minutes long! What could it be? Did Lion Music compress the whole album into one download for convenience? No, their other albums aren't like that. What is it then? Did George Bellas really write and record one song that's 75 minutes in length? My curiosity was piqued.

Take a look over at the Truth In Shredding blog and look at the right hand column. There are so many guitarists there are with solo albums these days. Some of the names I've heard of, but most of them look totally unfamiliar to me. It must be pretty tough to get noticed if you are one of them. I don't care to speculate on the reasons why musicians write music the way they do. There are probably as many different answers as there are guitarists on that site. But an album with one 76 minute song on it means several things to me. One, that they have definitely stretched some musical boundaries, especially in the world of instrumental guitar albums. And two, that they are intellectually capable of writing such a song. He has my attention. Now here's a quote on the Lion Music website about the album:

George’s goal on "STEP INTO THE FUTURE" was to compose ultra-modern sounding music that used composition techniques that he had not previously used on any of his other releases. George comments, “I did not initially plan to write a 76 minute song, it just came out that way. I just kept writing and writing and as more ideas came to me, I eventually realized that this was turning into a behemoth of a song. The album was not a bunch of separate tracks that were merged together after the fact, but it was indeed written as one long continuous piece. There are several factors that differentiate "STEP INTO THE FUTURE" from my previous releases, one of which is that this album contains only one song that is 76 minutes long. Other significant factors are the compositional techniques that I employed. Although I am known to compose very complex, progressive music, I did not want to use the same elements found on my previous releases. So, all fresh scales, meters and chords were written specifically for this album. I was very much inspired by advanced compositional techniques such as: Interval Sets, Twelve Tone Serialism, Poly-Meters, Poly-Chords, Quartal and Quintal Harmony to name a few. I was also inspired to have a bunch of very melodic guitar playing with very lyrical themes that at times had a melancholy feel to them. To put it simply, I was imaginatively inspired with what the future may hold. I would also say that "STEP INTO THE FUTURE" is the most dynamic album I have released so far. This album was not written as a showcase for guitar solos, it is composition in the truest and finest sense there is. I really strived for something that captivated my senses with ultra imaginative, highly unique, creative writing”.
Sounds pretty intriguing, and indeed the album really is. Thankfully it is not chock full of some guy playing 64th notes and arpeggios as fast as humanly possible the whole time. There's real song structure here writing in the prog epic style, with lots of dynamics and plenty of imaginative ideas, odd time signatures, and slow and fast-paced passages. There is musical genius here, that much is clear.

The challenge for me was how to present this album in a radio-friendly format for the station. While it would be nice to hear this whole thing in it's entirety, I decided that it would be better to break it down into several lengthy segments that would still give it an epic feel without being so lengthy that it would aggravate the listeners.

I hope you take some time to get to know this CD, I think it's really a unique creation and I hope it does get George Bellas some notoriety. He sure got my attention in a BIG way this time.


stringray said...

I've heard some pieces of Step Into The Future now on Progulus and I liked them very much. Seems to be a great album, as in great composition, gladly it's not a shred fest.
As always you did a great job in editing overlenghty epics in to prog-radio friendly pieces!

But for me, being a German, it is a pity to hear that this piece is released on Lion Music. In the meantime I do hate them. In all those years they never cared for distribution in Germany, we can only order their cds at their website if we accept those horrible shipping costs. What they want us to pay for their cds is an impertinence! It seems Lion Music is a bunch of anti-german ones who still think we're running around, talking nazi-propaganda and raising our arms.

I do pray that the roulet wheel at amazon helps me to find a foreign trader offering the cd at a fair price.
-end: yell-

BG said...

I also listened to some parts of this piece. What I like is that having 75 minutes George B. does not have the need to cram as much shredding as possibility into the track...something other artists could take a few hints from.

Anonymous said...

Lion Music are in no way anti-German! the reason we did not have any German distribution was that it was impossible to find anyone, or actually we had a few very bad ones who did not pay (and went bankrupt in the end) and we can't work with such assholes so for a long time we were searching for an honest partner and now we are happy to be working with H'art in Germany. I am sorry for the difficulties but we really have been trying our very best through all of these years. It is actually very difficult to find good partners.

stringray said...

Phew, I better watch my words in future. Sorry guys, I didn't mean to insult you, I was just very emotional. I'm glad you finally found a distibutor among us, sorry to hear it's so hard finding German partners! I will check those H'art guys and see what they can offer me from your staple of great artists. Hope they send out hard copies.