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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

CD Review: Arne Jansen – The Sleep of Reason, Ode to Goya

Arne Jansen (guitars, piano), Andreas Edelmann (bass), Eric Schaefer (drums), Friedrich Paravicini (keyboards, cello, vibraphone), Stephan Braun (cello), Nils Wülker (flugelhorn)
(Review by Les)
Born in Flensburg, educated in Berlin, German guitarist Arne Jansen releases his third album, the majority of the content of which is an attempt to convey his personal feelings and emotional experiences as a result of viewing the Goya paintings in Madrid’s Prado Gallery.  Nine of the pieces are composed by Jansen, with two covers (U2’s Love is Blindness and Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms) thrown in for good measure.
On first listen, Jansen comes across as a competent player, and broadly speaking the pieces fall into three broad styles of playing – finger-style jazz, jazz-rock and delicate, improvised soundscape washes upon which the notes are “hung”.  However, after a few listens therein (for me at least) lies the problem.  Jansen’s enthusiasm for the guitar has a tendency to reveal too much about his influences rather than defining his own sound and style.  The finger-style pieces, for example, are reminiscent of Pat Metheny (with whom he attended workshops at college); the jazz-rock pieces are just a little “two-dimensional“, and best left to the likes of Al Di Meola and Jeff Beck.  Still, the playing is very listenable/enjoyable, and there are times when you feel Jansen’s character and personality are able to break through, especially on the “improvised soundscape” tunes.  Those moments are much more interesting, and to my ears Jansen needs to be a little more confident in his own ability and go for the real “him”.  The glimpses we get of this on this album are certainly among its highlights.
I’m not sure why Jansen felt the need to include the covers on the album.  They’re not necessary, and are possibly more appropriate being played by the busking musician in the corner of a restaurant than on the third release of a serious, up and coming artist.  The originals are certainly better.
Despite my criticisms there’s a lot to enjoy on this album, and I for one look forward to future releases by Arne Jansen in the hope of hearing (more than glimpses of) “the real Him”.  Overall, a commendable effort though.
The Sleep of Reason is released  June 3 (ACT Music)
Les.

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