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Alan Holdsworth and Gordon Beck: With A Heart In My Song

Recorded in 1988 and originally issued on vinyl, this album features Holdsworth on the Synthaxe guitar synthesizer and Beck on keyboards. But despite the electronic trappings, it’s fairly easy to distinguish one instrument from the other since Holdsworth’s characteristically long legato lines, frequently horn section-like comping, and volume swells contrast markedly with Beck’s fluent tinkling on keys. Nevertheless, the two approaches fit together like hand in glove.

While the program (comprising seven originals) is relatively short by today’s standards, the quality of the music more than makes up for it. “Equus” is a fluid, bright-tempoed workout rife with highly musical interaction between the two voices, while the ballad “54 Duncan Terrace” sports rich, sustained harmonies and shimmering melodic phrases. “999” and “Sundays” are solo vehicles for keyboard and guitar, respectively. The former grooves in a robotic kind of way with the help of an active percussion sequence and is very different in mood from the latter, which is almost funereal as it begins eerily and then transforms into a somber hymn. In all, this reissue provides a nostalgic look back at the work of two of the ’80s’ most creative technocratic improvisers.

Originally Published