Allan Holdsworth, is a name you probably may or may not recognize. He is one of the most innovative, overlooked, adventurous, and virtuoso guitar players. He has performed in bands/artists such as ‘Igginbottom, Tempest, Soft Machine, U.K., Nucleus' Ian Carr, and Pierre Moerlen’s Gong. Using complex chord progressions and the usage of the guitar synthesizer known as the SynthAxe, he surprises both audience, musicians, and listeners through his techniques.
Among supporters including Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, Frank Zappa, Joe Satriani, and course, Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave's own Tom Morello. That and the 2-CD set released by Manifesto Records are selected by Holdsworth entitled, Eidolon: The Allan Holdsworth Collection.
Now I’ve been aware of Holdsworth with his time between ‘Igginbottom and Tempest from the late ‘60s and the golden-era of the 1970s when I was at Houston Community College during my time as a student working on my Associate’s Degree for Jazz Studies from 2005 to 2014. His solo work, I didn’t know about until hearing his two albums; Flat Tire: Music for a Non-Existent Movie and None Too Soon.
And knowing there was something I was missing, the 2-CD release of Eidolon, made me realized that I was on an adventure with a master who has been around from day one. There’s no stop sign for Holdsworth. Not to mention his collaborations between Chad Wackerman, Tempest’s Paul Williams, Gordon Beck, and Jimmy Haslip to name a few. But I’m off-topic. I’ve picked a few highlights on the 2-CD set that shows how much he opened the doors and why he’s keep the wheels on the train running.
The Sixteen Men of Tain showed that softer side to him. He takes his SynthAxe on an atmospheric approach as he channels Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue while during the climatic segment as he, Novak, and Carpenter take you towards the heavenly skies. Road Games delves into honoring the Grand Wazoo himself as it delves towards a Zappasque (Over-nite Sensation-era). Allan sees himself almost a conductor as he brings some intense time signatures.
The late great Jack Bruce shines on through the vocals as if he’s letting Allan know that he’s got his back in the cross between the Blues and Prog-Rock while the take of Django Reinheardt’s Nuages honors the master by taking it into a traditional jazz sound. He also channels the listener to unbelievable results.
With Against the Odds, which features some beautiful vocal arrangements done by Naomi Star, the SynthAxe takes the listener to unbelievable landscapes while Vinnie Colaiuta’s incredible drum work brings some killer improve with Hunt’s mysterious keyboard work to create some dynamics and solo. He also brings a sense of humor in the song featuring Tempest’s Paul Williams on Metal Fatigue.
In the song it deals with success, explosives, fame, and how long will this thing will last because there come's a point where you'll fade into nothingness. There are times where Holdsworth himself goes from a clean sound to a crunchy, note-taking extravaganza in the piece as The 4.15 Bradford Executive goes into a fast-tempo midsection of electronic music’s time signatures as you can imagine being at work 24 hours at hyper-speed. The title feels something straight out of a film collaboration between Jacques Tati, Martin Scorsese, and Terry Gilliam.
The compilation of the title, Eidolon, comes from Greek Mythology. It means a spirit-image of a living or a dead person or an image of the ideal. Holdsworth’s compilation set is a perfect introduction who wants to discover more of his music and understand why he will keep the train going on more, more, and more. This is a great to get on his Train by listening to virtuosic guitar playing and electronic sounds from the SynthAxe.
The 20-page booklet contains liner notes by Chris Hoard and an interview with Allan himself about his career along with photos, discography, and the AH logo also on the back. Again if you want to delve into the waters of Holdsworth, this one is worth exploring. Or if you to delve more, the 12-CD box set The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever: The Allan Holdsworth Collection might be up your alley.
The 2-CD release will be again, an introduction for you to tag along on the journey and adventure for his creativity. And he is still going strong and as I’ve mentioned earlier, there’s no stop sign for him.