Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Billy Sherwood ~ Oneirology

(Click heading to visit official website.)
Style: prog-rock
Label: self-release
Year: 2010

Home: California

Members: Billy Sherwood ~ all instruments


From opening title track, & recalled a few tracks later in "The Following", there should be no doubt why multi-instrumentalist composer producer Billy Sherwood caught the attention of Yes's Chris Squire which led to their forming Conspiracy & Sherwood joining a post-Trevor Rabin Yes making a 90's comeback & later forming Circa with Yes's Tony Kaye & Yoso with Toto's Bobby Kimball. If anyone of the next generation has kept the flame burning bright of post-70's modern prog-rock without letting it stray too far from the foundation set by Asia, Yes, GTR, John Wetton & countless other gentlemen of prog it's definetly Sherwood. From the album's opening notes it's obvious he's been taking lessons from the great Steve Howe in soloing & rhythm playing. Oneirology is a modestly packaged release of eight new songs with all instruments & compositions by Sherwood. The songs tend to follow a similiar pattern of soaring Steve Howe-esque guitars ("Oneirology", "The Following", "The Gate", "Walking With You") with dense textures ranging from keyboard heavy ("Wake Up Call", "Lost Inside") to laidback acoustic settings ("Setting Sun", "The Recurring Dream"). There's much similiarity here in feeling & sound with the albums Sherwood did with Yes as producer, second guitarist behind Howe & co-composer (i.e. Keys To Ascention 1 & 2, Open Your Eyes, Union, The Ladder) which I personally find to be a creative high for Yes they hadn't seen in years. Though, it's hard to say if Yes has influenced the Sherwood of Oneirology or if Sherwood gave Yes a boost of new life. I'm willing to give him the benefit of doubt & say he gave them some new & young blood as Magnification that came after his departure lacked the creativity & brought the band to an end for a decade. But, Sherwood's Yes albums tend to hit hard & immediate with lots of variety while Oneirology takes some time to warm up to. This is not an immediate in-your-face album but requires a bit of focused listening. Focused is not something a lot of people do anymore with music. The problem it faces is that the songs range from six to ten minutes ... the weakness of much modern prog-rock. There seems to be a general agreement in the prog world that songs should have that extra bit of length. But, if the song doesn't have wild arrangements a repetitiveness tends to set in which works against the composition & that's the case here. It's hypnotic music for a generation that abandoned drugs decades ago. Part of what gets lost is the fact that Sherwood is quite a prolific lyricist. He not just has taken guitar lessons from Chris Squire & Steve Howe but also writing lessons from Jon Anderson with a palette of lots of colorful visuals mapping out a common theme of searching for something in light of dreams of the past. I will boldly say that I wish Sherwood was still in Yes as these are the lyrics I wanted to see on their new album Fly From Here. For those curious, oneirology is the scientific study of dreams, though most may need a dictionary for that one ... if the lyrics in the CD don't give it away without hesitance. It's definetly a dreamy album with dreamy musical landscapes that take their time like a long night. "Setting Sun", even at eight minutes, is a particular hightlight which opens with an simple acoustic guitar that leads into some heavy guitars & four minutes in completely changes pace with a solo that comes off of a Dire Straits or Jeff Beck album, not Yes. It's one of the most exciting tracks on the album with one of the best arrangements. Coming in second place is the closing track "Walking With You" which at almost ten minutes seems to encompass every song that came before it with swirling keyboards & guitars & highs & lows & even some of Sherwood's most ambitious singing.

(featured on the Roman Midnight Music CD Reviews & Interviews podcast: episode 37 "Interview: John Wetton," November 2011, click here to listen)


2 comments:

  1. Billy is probably the most underrated former Yes member and indeed one of the most underrated musicians of our time. He is one of the all time greats..on par with Trevor Rabin.

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    1. I was listening to Billy's work with YOSO the other day for a future review. I certainly agree! I love his time in Yes. The music industry knows his skills - he works on more sessions than anyone I know!

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