Review: Licensed To Chill – Alan Steward
I have a confession. Although I am predominantly an acoustic music fan these days, there was a time when I could have gone either way. Let me explain. Thirty years ago (when I was five years old) I had long hair and an Afghan coat. My musical time, as far as I can remember, was spent listening to Gong, Here and Now, and Steve Hillage.
Listening to Alan Steward I remembered why I loved that embryonic trippy-electronica of the seventies and eighties, and why I left it behind. I could never find that same brain-expanding quality in the likes of Jean Michelle Jarre, or Mike Oldfield (and it was the music not any chemical enhancement – the farthest I’ve strayed in that direction is a gallon of real ale).
Alan’s music could, by an unkind ear, be classified as ‘mood music’ but that is to be dismissive of a whole tapestry of sounds, beautifully woven into a deep… Crofty stop before you drift off on some middle eastern carpet metaphor here, just tell us what you think for goodness sake!
OK, enough of that semi-literate prosy stuff. Here are reasons to like Alan’s music:
It weaves (steady, on the cloth stuff agin Crofty) many multicultural themes around a fabulously rhythmic foundation and leaves you both satisfied and, at the same time, curious to hear more of the snippets from across the world.
Summertime demands music like this to ease you through the sweaty days
You need music to work to, and this music gets in your head the same way Bach’s does but whereas you know what you are getting with the Brandenburg Concertos, for example, Alan’s music veers off and forces you to explore something new at every turn, without go so far off the track as to be off-putting.
Sitting playing with yourself in your bedroom is easy. Sorry, I mean with your guitar, you have a limited range of notes and sounds to work with. I have massive admiration for someone who has the discipline to craft tunes like Alan’s with a palette the size of the whole world of music – how do you do that?
To review this album specifically is difficult, I could tell you my favourite tracks – I love Buddah Bar Fly, Rising from the East, and King of the Chill, but to be honest the whole album’s cool, and will probably become a summer staple for the car (particularly at the end of the day for the drive home).
I see Alan’s joined Experience My Culture, and there is more than enough to whet your appetite so don’t take do an interview with Alan, I’d love to know more about his sources and his work.