Steve MacLean

Opposite of War

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The Opposite of War was a return to rock music for guitarist Steve MacLean, once very active on the American avant-prog front, particularly with Doctor Nerve. One finds the same angular rhythms and circumvolving melodies on this album, but MacLean adopts a more relaxed pace. He is accompanied by keyboardist Tim Inman, bassist Jim McGirr, and drummer Dave Fields. Written down to the smallest details, the guitarist's compositions are built on interlocking patterns that reveal changing melodies. "Windows, Pt. 2" and "Windows, Pt. 1" constitute the best examples of his art. The patterns that gave them birth don't prevent them from breathing, unlike "Mercy Blues," a stiffer exercise. "Fourth Dimension" reveals a side of the guitarist rarely seen: Tender and reflective, it boasts a surprisingly light melody (as in Chuck Mangione light). In fact, the last three tracks slow down the tempo and veer toward a soft jazz-rock style out of record label ReR's league. It drags down the album a bit. To create a sense of flow, MacLean added short electronic transitions built with Sound Forge plug-ins. It helps keep a sense of cohesion and gives the CD a more clearly defined identity. It remains a good -- but not totally convincing -- comeback.

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