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Lyle Workman:
Tabula Rasa
2000, Infrared, 10401-2

The mostly instrumental effort by Lyle Workman, Tabula Rasa, is a soulful progressive album that demonstrates Workman's comprehensive grasp on the application of modern guitar and instrumentation to produce richly textured music. The music on Tabula Rasa does not focus on the exposition of guitar techniques for the purpose of guitar heriosm, but instead focuses on applying various techniques and effects for the purpose of creating intricate compositions featuring satisfying arrangements laden with deep emotional content. The compositional style is a little reminiscent of some of the Beatles more involved, epic compositions, as well as Acoustic Alchemy's modern acoustic instrumental concept with some electric guitar work to boot. Workman also brings a subtle, appealing country flare to his progressive style with the guitar techniques and voicings that he integrates, similar to the some works by the Eagles.

Though the music does not showcase any speedy, shredding fret work, the guitarmanship nonetheless demonstrates an impressive level of maturity and proficiency with the diverse techniques that are seamlessly integrated. The fret work centers around a lot of intricate acoustic work that is accentuated by the soulful, majestic electric lead work that includes some excellent, well-fealt slide (steel) guitar work. The different guitar voicings are tactfully layered in a manner that is well-produced and that results in well-balanced, enjoyable music.

The soundscape is set to the backdrop of acoustic guitars that set the tone and feel of the album. The feeling conveyed by the compositions is one that is mellow, relaxing, and soothing, yet is sufficiently intricate that it keeps the listener's attention. The music also conveys a positive, upbeat perspective that has a thread of bittersweet sorrow woven through it in places that gives it an appealing depth of character. Some of these compositions have the same type of emotional impact as such great compositions as "The Long And Winding Road" by the Beatles and "Layla" by Derek And The Dominoes (the instrumental segments that feature Duane Allman's slide work), both without the lyrics, though. But, this emotional content is conveyed in a package that is based upon more complex underpinnings (satisfyingly so) than these great classics.

Tabula Rasa is music with an epic perspective that will take you on a journey into the vast depths of Lyle Workman's mind and soul. This music is perfect for kicking back and relaxing on a lazy weekend day or after a hard day's work. The album is able to balance complexities in composition and musicianship without overwhelming the listener with the intensity of the instrumental mechanics. If you are looking for a mellow change of pace from aggressive instrumental music that still possesses involved compositions and talented instrumentation, or if you just like mellow instrumental music that is progressive in nature, I recommend this album. It took me a few days of listening to acclimate to the style and concept from the aggressive instrumental music that seems to be so predominant in progressive and fusion, but it is a worthwhile adjustment. This music takes me back to the very roots of soulful feeling and accessible melody that got me so interested in music in the first place.

This album is a solid effort from start to finish. I would have been even happier without the vocals that appear on just one track, but that is just me and my preference for strictly instrumental music... (no offense to Mike Keneally's vocals intended!) Good job Lyle!

1) Timbuktu
2) Here Comes The Cavalry
3) Splendid Outcast
4) Cowboy G
5) Coloratura
6) Inhale
7) The Great Race
8) Rising Of The Mourning Son
9) Afterglow
10) Ithaca

~ Christopher Ruel ~ ~




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