Hello once again music appreciators and artists. Today I am coming up with another review of an album and artist that a lot of you may not have been aware of.
In the Middle East this man is quiet well-known in the music scene.
I am talking about none other than guitar maestro Alan Azar.
Alan Azar is a Lebanese electric guitar virtuoso that has been known for his melodic, intricate, and technical musicianship. Alan began his journey of learning the guitar when his father bought him a nylon string guitar at the age of 15. With a lot of dedication and practice Alan became proficient
on the instrument; he later studied Musicology and ended up being a guitar instructor at the university level.
Alan formed his first band ALIENZ with his brother Julien Azar,who is an extremely proficient keyboard player. They started out as a cover band, basically covering tracks from bands such as Savatage and Megadeth. In 2003 they got drummer Ralph Choueri and started to create original music in the vein
of artists such as Joe Satriani, Symphony-X, and Dream Theater.
Alan had a successful career with the band for a good four years, but eventually left the band and became a solo artist.
Alan released his first album “Defective Harmony” in January of 2009. The album was an entire instrumental Progressive Rock/Metal album .The music on the album was a result of his collaboration with his brother Julien Azar. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the album was well received by Alan’s growing
Besides being a successful solo artist , Alan tours with the Lebanese rock band The Kordz.
Alan also is a sought after session and touring guitar player. He has played in genres including
R&B, Jazz, Metal and Rock. He has collaborated on various international recordings and has also
been a session guitar player for the Arab pop sensation Nancy Ajram.
The album I want to talk about today is Alan’s second solo album “The Cosmologist”, released
on September 6,2011. “The Cosmologist” is a ten track affair, that is filled with plenty of stuff for
guitar listeners. The album is a lot more mature musically and production wise than Alan’s
debut, “Defective Harmony”. I should say the mixing and production on the album is very well done by
Roland Azar. The mix truly represents the more spacey, out of this world type of dynamics which the album needed according to its title. Alan displays a great sense of musical balance on this record, starting with an energetic track “In To Space(06:02)”. I should mention there is a concept behind this album and that makes it even more fun to listen to this record as a whole.
On the first track Alan displays his love for metal. The track is heavy and really is a great starter for the album.
The second track on the album is called “Red Shifted Area (05:27)”. This track has a bit of a fusion based harmony, meeting more of the heavier rock and metal progressions. The solo on this track is really amazing; I call it a great mix between Joe Satriani meets John Petrucci, and Alan Azar just takes it all in and adds his original dynamics to those influences.
One thing that I think is very appealing about this album is how well the record is balanced. Alan has offered some of his best elements to us on his second effort.
Speaking of balance, we enter the third and fourth tracks on the album. “Cosmic Dream(05:33)” and “Sagittarius(05:33)” are two beautiful electric guitar repertoires. There is this sense of atmosphere, serenity, and tranquility on both these tracks. Azar’s feel is extremely strong on both the tracks. There is some great keyboard and synth work on both the tracks. Every note means something and every
phrase has a meaning behind it. There is absolutely no redundancy- basically redundancy is nowhere to be found through-out the album.
The beauty of both these tracks is how they make a musical statement and movement. Both tracks are very moving and it’s a wonderful experience to listen to both the tracks. I love the usage of percussion on “Sagittarius”. I think the usage of the duff adds this exotic flavour to a wonderfully arranged instrumental.
We return to the more darker and heavier elements on the fifth track, “Saraswati River(07:00)”. The harmonies are very cool on this track, the drum and bass patterns are very intricate and cool. Roger Yessayan and Armen Sepetov do an excellent job on keeping the groove intact throughout. I think this track is a good example of their proficiency on their respective instruments. Alan wears his influences properly and you can clearly hear them, yet he keeps his originality in place.
He knows how to keep a balance between his influences and himself. I heard a bit of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani on this track. I must say though there is plenty of Alan Azar on this track. There is some great usage of the minor scales, exotic scales, and modes on this track. The synth effects are also very cool on this track, some cool cyborg oriented effects are present on the track.
A very cool track indeed and probably one of the darkest tracks on the album. The guitar lines on the chorus are just beautiful. Here you hear quite a bit of Alan’s love of Progressive music.
The sixth track is the title of the album. “The Cosmologist(06:02)” is not an instrumental track, which changes a bit of the feel of this solo instrumental guitar album. On this track Alan decided to narrate his concept further by adding lyrics to the music. The vocals are powerfully delivered by Brannon McKay. I really enjoyed this track, the entire feel was interesting, the lyrics are very strong and the ideas, guitar solo and riffs are stellar. In conclusion this track leaves you with sort of a chilly feeling and a sense of wanting to learn further about the concepts unveiled.
The seventh track on this album, “A Glimpse Of Reality(08:53)” I think is the most wildest track when it comes to musicianship. I think fans of everything progressive rock/metal will enjoy this track a lot. Alan really gave his all on this track, if you ask me. From the captivating harmonies, to the changes, and to the well thought out solos; this track has it all. The transitions are amazing on this track, making it
a true progressive epic and an absolute masterpiece. What I also find unique about this track is the experimentation on the track. At 4:02 we hear another lyrical statement, this time the vocals are
delivered by Sami Gabriel. The writing is very strong lyrically as well as musically on this track. I found it really cool how this track made such a powerful statement instrumentally and then in the middle we
get to hear a very powerful vocal statement. This is probably my favorite on the album, if I am in the mood for an all out progressive rock/metal epic. To conclude, this track is superlatively melodic.
The eighth track on this album, “The Dancing Snowflake(03:50)” is an absolute breather from the wildness in terms of musicianship on the previous track. I think this is a track to listen to with your eyes closed- just picture an environment filled with comfort and it feels like you’re floating in that environment. The guitar lines are beautiful, it’s like the guitar lines are being sung rather than being played. I really enjoyed the transitional build at 1:35; it lasts for a while and then returns to the original harmonies and progressions. A very enjoyable track, I love Alan’s alternate picked notes on this track, his picking is phenomenal as well as his killer legato technique.
The ninth track on the album, “Sea Of Tranquility(07:14)”, is an epic melodic statement. It has to be one of the most beautiful tracks on the album. If the previous track wasn’t enough in terms of melodic feel, this should quench your thirst. The pattern is just phenomenal; it will grab your attention right away. There is a lot of usage of the keyboards and synths on this track which create a large part of the sound for this track. Alan has made some very cool usage of various effects on this track. I love the chorus of this track, the beat is fantastic, the keyboard lines are beautiful, and Alan’s playing is better than ever. There is a ton of melodic beauty on this track. Azar proves once again that he is a master of arranging a track and truly captivating the listener. The entire track is filled with great usage of vibrato, interesting guitar licks, and compositional mastery. Definitely another epic, as strong as the seventh track but in a totally different musical direction. I highly recommend hearing this track if you’re just interested in checking out Alan’s skills for the sake of curiosity. Be sure to check out this tune as one of the firsts.
We come to the final and tenth track on the album. “True Inspiration II” is a track that I heard back in the beginning of 2010. There was a live version of this track on Alan’s YouTube channel and after hearing the track I started following Alan’s work. It was the first track I heard and I absolutely loved it back then and the recorded version is even more polished and enjoyable. This is another memorable ballad on the album, probably also one of the first tracks Alan composed for this album. If you want to hear “True Inspiration I” then check out Alan’s debut album. Alan builds up this track beautifully, gracefully ending this phenomenal guitar driven record.
Alan Azar is a master of his craft. On this album he has shown how much he has matured as a composer; he is already known amongst some of his influences such as Joe Satriani and Steve Morse.
The best way I can describe listening to this album is- transcendental. It truly is a wonderful and transcendental experience and I look forward to more music from Alan. I just wish I had heard this album back in 2011.
Band Line Up:
View Source: http://shredknowledge.com/alan-azar-the-cosmologist/