Normally, musics from rock critics are highly dubious affairs. I put my own cassette, 11 Constructions, out in the DIY 80s and, though it received excellent press nation-wide, the beast was in truth a pretty mediocre affair. I'm no musician, I just wanted to try my hand, but the result? Didn't sell worth a shit. Rightly so. And there are a number of reviewers who have attempted similar works (I won't won't cite any names for the moment) and met with the same end phenomenon. But then there are guys like Jon Tiven who craft some way cool primitivo rock, among other modes, and are properly successful. Well, A-J Charron's a crit, has published the So You Want to be a Songwriter book, heads up the wryly cognomened God Inc. progrock band, and this solo CD, Humouring Gods, is a very interesting classical work along the lines of The Enid, Craft (an Enid offshoot), Sky, Rick Wakeman, and Dave Greenslade.
In fact, it's much more in line with what had been expected when Greenslade issued his marvelous white elephant The Pentateuch of the Cosmogyny. A very hard item to locate in its original book/LP format, the intent of the work, a solo classical try by Dave that fell far short of expectations but is nonetheless cherished, overpowered the jazz/prog/rock composer's talents and wound up antithetical to its apocalyptic intent. Quite acceptable on far less sturm und drangy merits, Pentateuch still causes fans to scratch their heads. Enter A-J Charron.
Though in aspect the guy looks to be a refugee from the old Outlaws band, nothing could be further from the truth: he is in fact a progrocker from the git-go, from the soles of his feet up. So, to the gents and acts just mentioned, you might want to add Jan Akkerman (Tabernakkel, Profile, Focus' Eruption, etc.), Thijs van Leer & Roger Otterloo (the Introspection series, Focus' Eruption), Banco, and even a generous sprinkling of Renaissance. The story line here is of a woman seduced by the gods and then transformed to a harpy for 'her' transgression (yep, women tended not to come off too well in elder days either, especially whenever it came to fairness in male domains), and Charron's concentrated on the protagonist-turned-hellion's doomed succession of emotions rather than the overtly Stygian nature of the entire incident.
This makes for a lot of thoughtful passages far more in line with elder classicalism and later Impressionism than prog's oft thunderous neoclassicalism (think King Crimson, Art Zoyd, Univers Zero, that sort of stratum as contrast). Working mainly with guitars and what appears to be guitar-triggered apparati, and lots of both, but also layering in keyboards and programmed timpani—not, I hasten to add, drum machines—the eight movements wend through alternatingly rich and spare tableaux reflecting the titles (see below) and evolving situations and often informed in turns by Mahler, Holst, Debussy, Stravinsky, and various hoary estimables.
Humouring Gods is not music for putting on and ignoring or relegating to background amusement, as the literacy and degree of almost semantically luminous effects require involved active listening. A-J Charron is serious as hell in what he's doing, and the disc is damned near a new wrinkle in the canon. For a debut solo effort, it's indicative of a coming career of top-notch craftsmanship of intellectual savor and vivacity.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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