Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
The destination is not as important as how one gets there.
Parrish A. Highley | Somewhere I've Never Travelled | 09/26/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If any of you has ever had the chance to speak with Godfrey Townsend, you already know just how pleasant, humble, and thoughtful he really is. He spent a lot of time with us after a gig he did with The Alan Parsons Live Project just chatting about this, that, and the other in a very casual way. At one point, he recognized some of the music the following party/cover band was playing later in the evening. He actually walked over to the entrance of the venue and listened, really listened to the musicians that followed the APLP. He was eager to come back to the bunch of us and say, "these guys are pretty good" when all of the sudden his head, neck, and shoulders twitched at the sound of something that, frankly, escaped me. Then he said, "that guitarist played a perfect solo then missed an entire chord. How do you play a perfect solo with millionths of notes and then miss an entire chord?!"
The album's artwork ("Vishnu at Creation") may well be the best piece of art I have ever seen on a compact disc. Apparently, Godfrey was unable to get permission to use this striking image from the relevant attorneys in this country, so when performing in India he personally sought out the artist who granted him permission to use the artwork. It may have been an awful lot of trouble to go through, but the end result was definitely worth it.
Everything about the outside of the tangible product prepares the listener for an instrumental journey. That's important, especially for those who generally listen to vocal songs. Nothing about the packaging in anyway misleads the listener in that regard. Too often, instrumental electric guitar pieces get lost in their own virtuosity at the terrible expense of melody, but that is not the case here. So much of this album is so listenable that I can easily see half of the pieces getting airplay on satellite radio.
Astral Progression is a unique arrangement of various guitar effects complete with the disclaimer "no synthesizers" in the song's liner notes. It really sets a mystical tone for the following song that it immediately blends into, Closer 2 U. Despite my impulse to spell out the title properly, it's a damn good song. If progressive rock is the jazz of rock'n'roll, this piece is a textbook example of prog that is both engaging and unobtrusive all at once.
But my personal favorite is probably Long, Misty Bridge which is a beautifully languid mixture of Godfrey Townsend's electric guitar and producer, drummer, and guitarist Steve Murphy's acoustic. The piece behaves a lot like the solo work of Craig Chaquiso, formerly of Jefferson Starship, and any fan of his is likely to also enjoy the vast majority of Easy Journey to Other Planets.
Another Godfrey Townsend/Steve Murphy electric/acoustic guitar piece I really like is Hazel Street. If there was one song on the album that almost lends itself to a vocal, it would be this one. The structure seems to almost invite a human voice at times, but I think I ultimately prefer wondering what those words would be rather than actually hearing them. There's a real sense of mystery to this song with which lyrics would likely interfere.
The title track Easy Journey to Other Planets forms the perfect centerpiece for an album of this nature. More than anything, it puts the listener into a state of mind where he or she can actually meditate. It's not so soft as to put one to sleep. Nor is it so charged that you feel the need to move around to it. It really does straddle those two tendencies to become something else entirely: a song to which one could actually meditate.
If there was one thing I would have done differently, it would have been to replace the second to last song "Cold" with a spoken word performance that, either through poetry or prose, would have given the listener some insight into the artwork Godfrey literally had to travel the planet to share with us. The song that immediately precedes "Cold" is one of the strongest songs on the album, Whitefeather. Unlike the other songs, there is a beautifully arranged four-part vocal harmony that builds until the end and closes that song in a really dynamic way. The vocal harmony is so well done that it really leaves the listener wanting more. That song would have transitioned nicely into a spoken word piece which, in turn, would have blended right into the closing piece Narada Muni. That is really the only thing I would have done a bit differently, but that's fairly minor when all is said and done.
One thing that I did say to Godfrey before I had to leave was that musicians really do an important service to their fellow man. I work in the medical profession and I help people who are ill or want to avoid illness. But at the end of the day, who the heck is taking care of me?! Some nights music is about the only way I can actually relax. Oh, sure, you can down a bunch of alcohol, but that's not good way to cope with stress long term.
So I took Godfrey's easy journey to another planet...I'm just sorry I couldn't stay."