Album Remarks & Appraisals:
All About Jazz - John Kelman
Few artists alive in 2012 can be both as awe-inspiring and frustrating as guitarist Allan Holdsworth. Since emerging in the early 1970s - his solo on "Hector's House," from trumpeter Ian Carr's Belladonna (Vertigo, 1972), an early and rough-hewn but still staggering preface to advances made in leaps in bounds in the ensuing half decade - Holdsworth has emerged as a rare true original, creating a harmonic landscape like none other. It's not just guitarists who strive to emulate Holdsworth's smooth, legato approach, sophisticated linearity and closed voicings, either; artists like Gary Husband - who has played drums for the guitarist over the years on albums including his classic (and best-selling) Metal Fatigue (Enigma, 1985) and Wardenclyffe Tower (Restless, 1992) - has experienced his own kind of recent emergence, as a keyboardist of equal significance on albums including The Things I See (Art of Life, 2001), a set of solo piano interpretations based on Holdsworth's music.
But despite all the guitarists who`ve cited Holdsworth as a touchstone, ranging from Alex Machacek and Scott Henderson to Eddie Van Halen, this legendary British guitarist who's lived in the US for decades has become increasingly hobbled when it comes to releasing new albums. His last studio recording, Flat Tire: Movie for a Non-Existent Movie (Megazoidal, 2001), was a solo guitar/Synth Axe recording and the last time he recorded with a group in a studio was The Sixteen Men of Tain (Globe, 2001). Since then there have been live recordings like Then! (Alternity, 2004) and the more recent Blues for Tony (MoonJune, 2009); anthologies like Against the Clock (Alternity, 2005); and aborted projects like Soft Works' Abracadabra (MoonJune, 2003), which would morph, after Holdsworth left, to Soft Machine Legacy. But the Holdsworth camp has been frustratingly quiet in the past few years. He has been hitting the road far more often, delivering a knock-out 2009 performance in Gatineau, Canada, but as strong as his shows are, they only shine an even greater spotlight on the lack of new material and a new album to push. ... read more...
Personnel: Allan Holdsworth (synthesizer, guitar); Steve Hunt (keyboards); Skuli Sverrisson (bass); Gary Husband (drums).
Engineers: Allan Holdsworth, Rejean De Grand'Maison.
Personnel: Allan Holdsworth (guitar); Steve Hunt (keyboards); Skúli Sverrisson (bass guitar); Gary Husband (drums).
Audio Mixers: Gordon Davis; Allan Holdsworth.
Audio Remasterer: Chris Bellman.
Liner Note Author: Barry Cleveland.
Recording information: Front Page Recorders; The Brewery.
Allan Holdsworth is arguably one of the most important post-Hendrix electric guitarists to grace either the fusion or rock scenes, while Hard Hat Area, signifies one of the artist's better solo excursions. With this 1994 effort, the guitarist receives excellent support from Icelandic electric bass phenom Skuli Sverrissson, whereas keyboardist Steve Hunt renders melodically tinged synth lines and ethereal backwashes throughout. Essentially, the group produces a series of climactic overtures, accelerated by a distinct sense of uninhibited force. On pieces such as "Ruhkukah" and "Low Levels, High Stakes," the musicians surge forward with a deterministic flair via a few tricky time signatures and lyrically charged themes atop Holdsworth's climactically driven solos. Consequently, the group conveys an underlying sense of tension and release, as Holdsworth's scathing legato-based lines might spur notions of a hawk zooming in on its prey. Thus, a must-have for the ardent Holdsworth aficionado. ~ Glenn Astarita