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July/August 2006

David Becker
Euroland
Cool Springs

Normally heard as one-third of the David Becker Tribune, that group’s namesake guitarist takes the solo route on Euroland. With only a few exceptions, however, he doesn’t perform in solitude. Drum machines, guitar loops and synthesizers add to the atmosphere, which intends to evoke a musical voyage across Europe, where the transplanted Californian now resides.

The song titles indicate what, or where, Becker hopes to evoke: “Celtic Sea,” “Dawn Over Dublin,” “Istanbul,” “Hills in the Distance.” (Perhaps to comment on all this lush geography, he also includes a rubato, dreamy version of “But Beautiful.”) “Dawn Over Dublin” has the right idea, creating a pleasant melody over an Irish jig. “Webergasse” combines a loop of guitar harmonics with a cascading lead and a background that sounds like a droning cello.

But Euroland falls victim to the trap of many solo recordings because Becker puts too much faith in sterile drum beats or repetitive loops. The two-chord groove underneath “View From Above” gets under the skin really quickly, as does the preprogrammed funk rhythm section of “Les Space in Art.” Becker’s tone and execution are impeccable throughout the album, but ultimately it never rises above the level of a New Age soundscape.

Originally published in July/August 2006
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