Review Summary: Good, solid melodic prog, that brings in a number of genres.
At some point, progressive rock acquired a bad name which it carried even for decades. Ok, it could be due to changes in musical fashion, but so far in rock history, some genres were never maligned. Part of the reason may lie in the fact that some prog artists took their ‘artistry’ a bit too far - vain show-offs of instrumental prowess for its own sake.
Still, prog rock survived and recently it has seen its resurrection, Of course, instrumental capabilities have their audience, but a big part of that resurrection of prog is due to musicians who want (and are capable of) incorporating a few genres into their music, but with a goal of making musical pieces that have a sense and logic to it, and that includes working in a ‘regular’ song format and having some melody along the line.
On the evidence of The Goldwyn Experiment’s Avenue B, Goldwyn Thandrayen, guitarist with Montreal’s Psychocide and musicians that cooperated with him on this project, might have more to say to that effect. Thandrayen, who was born on the Island of Mauritius and who has literally traversed the world with stops in Glasgow and New York on his way to Montreal, has obviously gathered a vast musical knowledge that he incorporates into the sound of Avenue B.
Starting out as a hard rock-inspired guitarist and incorporating jazz schooling in Florida and all the world sounds he picked up on the way, Thandrayen tries to operate in a song format on this album, showing along the way that instrumental prowess shines more when it is used with a purpose and not for its own sake. From intelligent and smartly composed classical/ jazz pieces that open, intersect and close the album (‘Prologue’, ‘Interlude’ and ‘Epilogue’) to reggae/world rhythms of ‘Vodka Tea’ and ‘Whale Jail’ to sounding like guitar-led Jethro Tull on ‘Bag of Nails’, to almost anything else that has caught his ear along the way, including a brief rap on ‘Sad Boy Summer’, Thandrayen shows why prog deserves a return to grace.
By the overall sound, it is obvious that you don’t need an endless cast of musicians and constant soloing to come up with good prog. A lot of it has to do with the fact than Thandrayen has not only gathered like-minded musicians who can play but that he has put his obvious extensive guitar skills to good and sensible use.
If there is a point where Avenue B could have turned out even better, is that Thandrayen could have used some extra help on the vocals, something he has already done in the past and that would have given even more variation to an already refreshing album.