Friday, June 8, 2012

Review: What a Wonderful Dangerous Place by Dan Pocengal

First, it's confession time. About fifteen to twenty years ago, I was a heavy subscriber to the whole guitar hero sub-culture created by such icons as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen. I hated and mourned the arrival of grunge and annoyed people no-end with my quoted guitarisms.

Dan Pocengal's solo instrumental album 'What a Wonderful Dangerous place' could easily have fitted the genre. I discovered Dan's website because of his involvement in the Midnight Project, but I found very quickly that I would have liked his music even without that connection. Leaving a message about how much I loved his music, led to a correspondence that took me by surprise on a number of levels, touching on various aspects of spirituality, perception, reality and a whole lot more. Insights shared gave me the benefit of familiarity with a lot of symbolism in his music and in the images on his website, but since this is really meant to be a review, I guess I better say something about his guitar playing.

In the days when I devoured guitar magazines, one of the ongoing debates revolved around tone vs shredding speed, the general consensus being that you had either one or the other. Having said this, though, Dan Pocengal can certainly shred both meaningfully and moodfully, without sacrificing tonal quality.

A number of tracks are noteworthy. 'Mouthful of Tail' expresses the frenetic, chaotic activity of creation which is symbiotically linked to its shadow-aspect of destruction. 'Transmutation' also offers a glimpse of Dan's acoustic mastery. (One of my favorite 'other' numbers by Dan is an unplugged gem called 'Monastery Bells' which used to be on his website, but is not included here.) 'Orbital Junction' carries the slightest suggestion of melodic industrial music... without losing the primary soaring indentity of prog metal guitar. Despite its brevity, Star-Heart Wanderer is filled with beautiful movements and progressions. To discover the multi-dimensional wonder of 'What a wonderful Dangerous Place' for yourself, go to Dan Pocengal's website.

Well worth a buy if you love the electric guitar.

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