Venezuelan born guitarist Felix Martin is back with his second full length release (and first full length studio release) from Prosthetic Records in the form of the Scenic Album. When last fans left Mr. Martin, he was blowing away audiences with his live debut release, Live in Boston. As unorthodox as this order of things seems, it actually makes perfect sense. That’s because live shows are the key way of getting audiences into an artist’s music, especially for audiences that have not yet experienced an artist’s material. He has translated that live show quite well on this record. This is evident right from the album’s opener, ‘Tango I.’
‘Tango I’ is the opener to what is essentially a near six and a half minute opus split into three parts. The control of the song’s frenetic energy maintained by Martin and his band mates is incredible to say the least. Those that have not had the pleasure of seeing Martin and his band mates perform live in person can just close their eyes and imagine Martin’s fingers flying across all fourteen strings of his double-neck guitar. Even imagining it in one’s own mind is…well…mind blowing. Just as stunning about this song, is that Martin and company are able to maintain that control through all three movements and six-plus minutes of the song without missing a single note or beat. That is in itself a feat to behold. Drummer Marco Minneman’s timing with such difficult poly-rhythmic pattern is just as worthy of applause. What he does can only be described as controlled chaos. Along with bassist Nathan Navarro, the trio has crafted a song in these three movements that is as good as anything crafted by fellow guitar virtuosos Steve Vai and Joe Satriani if not better than them.
‘The Tango’ is just the beginning of the enjoyment from Felix Martin and company on the trio’s first full length studio release. Those that have the patience and are open minded enough will enjoy the album’s other three-movement opus centered on a character by the name of Viroliano. This trio starts with the character in question “trying” progressive music. He then moves into the jazz realm, before finishing up with a jaunt into the metal world. It’s through this trio of songs that Martin, Minneman, and Navarro really get to stretch their creative wings and display their talents even more. As talented as Martin is playing more up-tempo pieces, it is nice to hear him pull back if only a little bit on ‘Viroliano Tries Prog.’ The riffs almost hint at influences from the likes of Yes, King Crimson, and even certain other bands of that ilk. ‘Viroliano Tries Jazz’ is just as interesting as ‘Viroliano Tries Prog’ because it switches things up a bit more and progresses the overall opus one more step. It mixes elements of fusion jazz with a more rock oriented sound that eventually sets up the song’s final movement, ‘Viroliano Tries Metal.’ Martin and his band mates easily rival Dream Theater’s John Petrucci, John Myung, Mike Mangini in this movement. It’s a good closer because just as with the song’s previous movements, it’s one more chance for Martin and his band mates to display their talents even more. They prove that they don’t plus play fast and loud. They show that they can play heavy, soft, fast, and slow. It makes the overall presentation of The Scenic Album that much richer of a musical picture.
Martin, Navarro, and Minneman prove throughout the course of The Scenic Album that they are true musicians, and not just three guys that can play fast. The songs noted here prove that. They aren’t the only proof of that argument, either. The album’s final two songs—‘Eleven Drums’ and ‘2am’—solidify the argument for those that perhaps might have otherwise still been unconvinced. ‘Eleven Drums’ is unlike anything else that the trio recorded for this album. For lack of better wording, it has almost an ethereal vibe about it. It is far more subdued than any of the album’s other works, yet just as technically impressive. ‘2am’ is even more proof of the trio’s talents. This song is all over the place. It switches up between a semi-swing jazz vibe and something far heavier. How the trio manages to make it balance is anyone’s guess. They the Martin and company manage it. And the end result is a song that closes the album just as solidly as ‘The Tango’ opened it. And together with the album’s other tracks, it makes the Scenic Album one that true music lovers and musicians will enjoy just as much as any other more well-known instrumental and rock records out there today. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online at http://prostheticrecords.com/?p=3859. Felix is currently scheduled to appear at the 2014 NAMM Show in Anaheim, California on January 22 – 25th. He is also scheduled to perform at the Baja Prog Fest in Mexicali, Mexico on April 2nd. To find out about Martin’s latest tour dates and news, fans can follow him online at http://www.felixmartin.net and http://www.facebook.com/felixmartinmusic. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.