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Steve Howe\'s Remedy - "Elements"
Inside Out Records 2003

Steve did exactly what he wanted. He joined elements that influenced on his personal musical self-evolution. Record is another approval giving an impression that whenever Steve touches his guitar, new musical invention is being created. He gathers all inspirations from outside in, extracts and decodes it into new musical language of his own. Than wears new scheme of things back from inside out. Addition of jazz, blues, R&B elements joined with element of rock on a very special way, which strictly belongs to Steve Howe. Steve's guitar is placed mostly as an equalizing instrument of a band musical shape, yet steps in centre when there is a need for some wind to push while Steve fingers his soloing.

Weakest point is singing again. Well, Steve partly solved this problem by inviting his son Virgil to cover his main vocal lines. Bear's mumbling lies in quite impressive contrast with Virgil's singing who takes over higher sequences. Steve singing does not spoil the picture of all three songs: Across The Cobblestone (opening rocker), country fashioned Where I Belong and R&B oriented Load Off My Mind (the rest thirteen songs are pure instrumentals).Steve's vocal fits in and that is most important fact. As usual Steve swallows some words in verses by not exactly knowing what to do first. Take a deep breath or sing.

First two songs Across The Cobblestone and Bee Sting are more rocking pieces, while Westwind offers first obvious fusing touch of jazz meets rock. Its intro brings some seventies feel. Little brass orchestra nicely paints diverse palette of sounds and background layers; Steve's guitar tastefully fills the sound space. Song catches impressive collision of musical elements and draws great symbiosis between them.

Shorter experimental guitar journeys are cleverly placed between longer pieces. One of them is Whiskey Hill with interesting R&B drive and next Tremolando, Hecla Lava both with some space exploring elements drawing close connections with Yes.

One of the loveliest fusion moments driven in shorter vain is The Chariot Of Gold. It has mainly rocking rhythm line, yet captures now and then gentle touch of sax. Songs like Pacific Haze with classical jazz basement or blues-jazz oriented Inside Out Muse are surely the strongest moments on "Elements". Feel how grand magical atmosphere upgrades in both songs within every circle. Both of them carry some emotional, subtler parts that are done almost "in a silent way" and pure feel involvement by all instrumentalists. Chicago 1930, you awake behind the table in a night cabaret early in the morning. It is 5 a.m. and huge clouds of smoked cigarettes surround you. Waiter who hardly awaits you'll leave the building and let him to bed is your only company. It is easy to imagine Al Capone's years while listening to those two songs. Both built on fantastic inclusion of complete brass orchestra and genuine addition of Steve's jazzy musical face.

In comparison with intergalactic "Skyline" (2002), newest effort is a record of a band with more defined song structures. Well I don't fully agree with that. Final part delivers some uplifting medieval touches (Yes and Steve's fans will love that). Especially last three songs: Sand Evil, The Longing and subtler "deer hunter soundtrack" reminding piece A Drop In The Ocean that phenomenally closes the record. Record captures high dynamics with bunch of very diverse songs and sounds.

"Elements" is a real magnet for a listener and offers a huge space for exploring and adventuring the sounds. Steve's collision is convincible, because it sincerely reflects man's own personality. No one can repeat this record. Only Steve can. "Elements" will join under the same flag Steve's fans and people who like more shaped songs. "Elements" is another musical "Howention" of man who became a real chunk in rock history. A point, where sincere inspiration brings new creation.

Author:   Aleš

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