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Randy Coven: Witch Way
2003, Lion Music, LMC2233 2
CyberHome: http://www.RandyCoven.com

Randy Coven's collaborative solo album, Witch Way, is a collection of refined instrumental compositions forged in an open-minded progressive format. Coven's style and coverage on this album are unique in character. Coven blends clean-toned and carefully chosen voicings with progressive fusion tonality and thematic concepts, packaging it all with very refined production. The instrumentalism is intensive, yet placed in the context of the refined arrangements that Coven has devised on this album, the progressive instrumentalism seems subtle, creating a paradoxical dichotomy of sorts.

The CD opens with a tactful progressive / smooth jazzish track, "Island Dream" that sets the atmosphere for the album with refined instrumental exposition that is smooth and relaxing yet musically intensive and satisfying. Coven next covers the Doors classic "Riders On The Storm" with a unique instrumental rendition that captures the essence of the spirit of the original with the eery, floating keyboard tones, unendingly weaving, echo-resonant, clean-toned guitar lines, and the insightful feeling that Coven captures and projects that binds the track and gives it direction. "Love Kitchen", a spin-off of a 70's funk / groove theme, broadens the diverse stylistic coverage that Coven demonstrates throughout this album. The ensuing track, "Poem", returns to the core of Coven's refined, progressive style. This tr! ack is an upbeat, sophisticated instrumental composition that fuses savvy soloing between guitar, keboards, drums, and notably some spectacular bass soloing. The funk / fusion track, "Funk You", is next, building a tapestry of soloing exchanges around a funk keyboard theme that is voiced with a gritty synth voice. "Tree II" is a mellow, refined arrangement that features more intensive bass work that deftly wails within the low-keyed . Coven follows with another refined fusion composition, "Darklight" that is characterized once more by Coven's integration of progressive instrumentalism with carefully-crafted clean tones and balanced production. Finally, the album closes with "Therapy", another funk-based groove that features multi-instrument soloing, once again with flashes of excellent bass work.

The primary factor in the appeal of Randy Coven's Witch Way to the listening audience is most likely going to be the ability of the listener to latch onto the angle from which Coven approaches things. The pun intended, "Which Way" that Coven approaches instrumentalism, fusion, composition, voicings, and production are not raw nor openly aggressive, but are instead highly refined with focus on perfection in production. And, though the arrangements and execution are refined, the instrumental work somehow is intensive in a subdued manner and even manages to be explosive in places, or maybe "implosive" might be a better word to describe it. This unusual angle which is the way that Coven approaches things took some adjustment to acclimate, though after having made the a! djustment this listener was pleased at being given a new perspective to be entertained with. The music is mellow, cool, and conveys an easily perceivable feel and atmosphere that is unique and satisfying.

All things considered, Randy Coven's Witch Way is a worthwhile album for fans of refined fusion that are willing to appreciate the album for what it is and set aside sort of criteria of what the listener thinks fusion should be, such as raw and openly aggressive, for what it is not. Coven's style and approach carves out a niche that defies the conventional definition and understanding of what fusion is. Coven pulls some of the driving forces from fusion into a refined context that seems to be at odds with the premise of fusion supposedly needing to be raw. But, Coven makes it work and it seems natural rather than contrived. The end effect is tactful, savvy, and easily accessible music that should have a widely accessible audience.

&n! bsp;
Randy Coven    
Leslie West    
Delmar Brown    
Jeff Shapiro    
Joe Chirco    
Al Pitrelli    
John Maculuso    
Jim Hickey    
Scott McGill    
Paul Morris    
1) Island Dream
2) Ryders on the Storm
3) Love Kitchen
4) Poem
5) Funk You
6) Tree II
7) Darklight
8) Therapy
~ Christopher Ruel ~ www.ChrisRuel.com ~ Chris@ChrisRuel.com ~ May 2004




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