Steve Howe's third solo venture, "Turbulence," is packed with strong, flawless playing; however, most of the compositions lack the excitement, eclecticism, and adventurousness that made his earlier solo projects so interesting and appealing. The album's main weaknesses include the facts that many of the pieces (mostly three- and four-minute tracks) are much too similar in sound and structure, and a lot of this material, though completely instrumental, brings to mind the music of Asia ("Novalis"), GTR ("Turbulence"), and 1980s Yes. Howe's earlier solo releases were less affected by his extracurricular band collaborations. Howe plays electric and acoustic guitars and bass on all tracks on Turbulence, with occasional mandolin, dobro, koto, steel, percussion, and keys. Bill Bruford drums on nearly all of the cuts, most of which are rock-based with no forays into country or bluegrass territory. Two of the most solid recordings are classically oriented: "Corkscrew" and "From a Place Where Time Runs Slow." Other strong cuts are "Running the Human Race" (featuring Fender steel), "Fine Line," and "Sensitive Chaos." An alternate version of "Running the Human Race," with lyrics, appears on Howe's 1996 release, Homebrew. Steve Howe is one of the most recognizable guitarists in rock music, his sound and style easily identifiable in any music on which he collaborates. His playing is at its zenith, though, when he plays alone, as on many tracks of The Steve Howe Album and all of Not Necessarily Acoustic. Turbulence is solid and highly recommended but does not contain his most creative material.
by David Ross Smith