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May 2024
Vol. 23, No. 8

CD Reviews

MICHAEL McCLURE: The Complete Wrx of the Shlarb Trilogy

by Wayne RikerMay 2024

The Complete Wrx of the Shlarb Trilogy contains ten tracks of original instrumental compositions from guitarist Michael McClure, who also recorded and produced, in The Little Room in Calabasas, California. The tunes are a culmination from a recent trio of EPs, titled the Shlarb Trilogy.

Beyond the expansive array of multi-guitar settings, McClure adds additional instrumentation throughout via keyboards, looping, percussion samples, and some synthesized bass. The result is a pleasing plethora of well thought out arrangements loaded with polyphonic and polyrhythmic surprises at every twist and turn.

The opening track, “Shlarb the Dode,” immediately signals a revival of the groundbreaking instrumental guitar work from Jeff Beck in the early 1970s, as McClure puts his own stamp on that style bobbing and weaving with eloquently placed fretboard motifs, followed in similar fashion on the track, “Hey, Look Over Here I’m Naked,” laying down series of mellifluous flowing guitar harmonies channeling Beck’s impeccable guitar tone from that era.

“Pareidolia, Mi Amor” is a beautifully constructed series of diverse polyphonic and polyrhythmic sections with a wide spectrum of instrument interludes similar to what you would hear from composers Frank Zappa or Edgard Varese, followed by “Down the Rabbit Hole,” drenched in a wealth of reverb settings amid harmonized motifs that makes you feel as if you’re falling simultaneously down that rabbit hole.

We get a break from much of the intricate upbeat arrangements on the track, “The Unbearable Whirling Heart,” a dreamy, hypnotic modal tune with McClure’s melodic guitar riffs glistening simply against a repeating bass figure and a hand drum accompaniment.

Drummer Mike Kosacek steps front and center on the straight-ahead rockers “Resurrect the Llama” and “Your Very Own Wax Hand,” accompanying McClure’s mastery of rock-influenced guitar lines with hard-driving accompanying drum beats and fills.

“I Value Your Onion” is a symphony of sounds through myriad arrays of electric guitar settings traveling through varied musical sections, again highlighting McClure’s often surprising compositional diversity. The closing track, “In Better Times,” returns the listener to a peaceful, meditative state against a mesmerizing Dorian Minor Mode melody embellished by Andrew Stone on fretless bass guitar.

In conclusion, an entertaining listen, particularly for those who enjoy instrumental compositions with dazzling electric guitar work, bolstered by a creative mixture of guitar tones and orchestral interludes that define this work more than just any ordinary guitar hero album, but as an overall compositional masterpiece.

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