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Steve Morse - Split Decision

Steve Morse Band Split Decision
Catalog #: MA-9058-2

Price: $16.98


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Split Decision

01 Heightened Awareness
(mp3 or realaudio)

02 Busybodies
(mp3 or realaudio)

03 Marching Orders
(mp3 or realaudio)

04 Mechanical Frenzy
(mp3 or realaudio)

05 Great Mountain Spirits
(mp3 or realaudio)

06 Majorly Up
(mp3 or realaudio)

07 Gentle Flower, Hidden Beast
(mp3 or realaudio)

08 Moment's Comfort
(mp3 or realaudio)

09 Clear Memories
(mp3 or realaudio)

10 Midnight Daydream
(mp3 or realaudio)

11 Back Porch
(mp3 or realaudio)

12 Natural Flow
(mp3 or realaudio)

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  • Major Impacts 2
  • Major Impacts 1
  • dividing line STEVE MORSE BAND:
    Split Decision
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    Released Feb 26, 2002

    The Steve Morse Band's new Magna Carta release, Split Decision, features numerous instrumental hues that highlight the band's ability - not to mention Morse's compositional skill - at fusing and performing several genres in a virtuoso fashion.

    Since forming the Dixie Dregs at the University of Miami, composer and guitarist extraordinaire Steve Morse has won five consecutive awards as "Overall Best Guitarist" by Guitar Player Magazine's Reader's Poll (and has subsequently been disqualified from the category to allow other guitarists their due). He's received six Grammy nominations. In addition to The Dregs and The Steve Morse Band, he's worked with Kansas, numerous world-renowned artists, and continues to play with Deep Purple. In total, Steve Morse is the consummate musician: when necessary, a supportive sideman, but in particular, a singularly talented guitarist/composer.

    As evinced on his eagerly anticipated album, Morse's songwriting talents continue to evolve - as do his remarkable chops. Together with his steadfast collaborators bassist Dave LaRue and drummer Van Romaine, the SMB continues to amplify the interactive musical capabilities of the rock power trio. In its dexterous hands (and limbs), traversing through a dozen new songs, this triadic juggernaut thoroughly explores counterpoint and interplay. And dares to go where... well, you know.

    With Split Decision, his ninth album as the Steve Morse Band (his second project for Magna Carta) this guitarist's guitarist has once again proven that true musical veterans don't rest on their laurels. Steve Morse continues to explore and discover, reach and attain.

    "I try to have some variety in every album," Steve explains. "For instance, I like to choose themes or beginning of songs that are several years old, as well as the more recent ones. So it's all new to someone who hasn't heard it." Steve composes constantly. It's what he does. More so, what he is. "I can find ideas anywhere. In fact, I have so many that I can't locate all of them. I used to record motifs on cassettes and now they're scattered all over my house and studio."  Lucky for us; his prolific output is guaranteed for decades to follow.

    "Working for Magna Carta was a real joy," says Steve. "They allowed me so much freedom. And it was a great executive collaboration; that is, they'd suggest certain things. Like on my entire Major Impacts album, they came with that whole idea. I mean, when was the last time a record label came up with an idea that made a musician go, 'That's really cool...'?" On this second outing, Steve affirms it was the label's idea to present the songs in a thematic fashion, that is, with the first half more being upbeat and the second more mellow.

    "Heightened Awareness" is the opening heavy. Immediately one is taken with the alluring yet complex counterpoint between Steve's award-winning guitar playing and his noteworthy cohort, Dave LaRue on bass guitar. Shades of the Dixie Dregs, Steve's first quintet, can certainly be discerned. While these two string wizards excel in their leaner approach to music making -- adding only to their mix the superior drumming of Van Romaine --  it's nonetheless as intricate. And inventive. Here, in the absence of keyboards and violin,

    Steve and Dave have more room to stretch their dexterous chops. Van, on sticks, too.
    The following tune, "Busybodies" serves well as a template for rock written by J.S. Bach. "Bach's 'Brandenburg Concerto' is always playing in my pick-up truck," Steve admits. "His music is like looking at a textbook, it's just all there. This tune is like me saying, 'Yes sir, Herr Bach. You got it right. I'm just a humble student.'" With Steve's salute deserving high marks.

    "Marching Orders" again highlights Steve and Dave's ability to play in direct counterpoint, yet still weave a tale that kicks ass. When Van periodically changes his drumming into a Police-like groove, albeit for only a few measures, his time-playing snickers mischievously. "There's a little bit of Celtic in it, too," Steve points out. He's says he's long been influenced by such artists as Enya and Bill Whelan, composer of 

    The game's afoot on "Mechanical Frenzy."  Don't let the song's jaunty rhythm belie SMB's intent; there are plenty of sinewy chops throughout. Both Steve and Dave show their heavy mettle with compelling solos and more meddling about with their trademark guitar/bass counterpoint. "There's a bit of a Zeppelin feel to it, how it just rides along," Steve confirms. It's a standout, no doubt. One that clearly affirms the talents of all three embers both as individual musicians and supportive ensemble players.

    "Great Mountain Spirits" highlights yet another aspect of SMB -- its ability to combine both sublime textures with those that are, shall we say, uncompromising -- at once creating a pastoral ambience perforated with glacier-sharp edges. Steve's quite fond of it, too, adding, "That was the one I really wanted to lead the album off with, originally."
    The eighth track, "Moment's Comfort," signals the transition between SMB's more aggressive ensemble work to the handful of songs that are noticeably more subdued. Melodic and stately all, these five instrumentals are indicative of the band's ability to perform Steve's genre-bending compositions.

    "'Clear Memories' was an experiment," he points out. "I was trying to write a different feel, something that I'd seen in Europe, a guy just sitting here playing the classical guitar. Just a melodic thing. Not polyphonically, like I normally do. I just wanted to write something that just didn't sound like me. You can't help but do your own cliches every so often, but as a songwriter, I'm really not bothered by the need to be consistent."
    With its tongue-in-cheek title, "Midnight Daydream" is an excellent illustration of Steve's compositional craftsmanship. "That one we did several years ago, actually," he explains. Initially, its working title was "Slow Trio." Steve says he wrote it as a "dreamy, Hendrix-like thing." Unfortunately, that recording session came to an abrupt halt.  Van's leg was lacerated by a dog attack while he was out running one day. "He was all bandaged up and immobilized although he tried to finish, we decided to wait until he was on the mend."

    The album's closing track, "Natural Flow" also reveals Steve's wide-ranging musical tastes. "I've always really liked Renaissance music, Baroque, and medieval vocal motets," he says. The song rolls regally through a tasty chord progression, strummed on a 12-string acoustic guitar. Then a melody line emerges that hints of historical influences with a continental fare, before Steve follows with an acoustic guitar solo that is pure Americana.  Hence Split Decision traverses decidedly through miscellaneous genres within Steve's hold-no-boundaries approach to music making.

    Resolute in its overall mastery, The Steve Morse Band continues to redefine the "rock power trio" for the 21-century. Suffice it to say: decide to be amazed.

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