Beauty In Chaos - Finding Beauty In Chaos - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Beauty In Chaos - Finding Beauty In Chaos

by Howard Scott Rating:10 Release Date:2018-11-30
Beauty In Chaos - Finding Beauty In Chaos
Beauty In Chaos - Finding Beauty In Chaos

Michael Ciravolo calls himself the curator of musical project “Beauty in Chaos”, and when you listen to the debut release, ”Finding Beauty in Chaos”, you quickly realize that that is a very apt description. Listening to the album is akin to visiting a display of fine art, where there are 14 separate masterpieces on display, most by different artists, but all extraordinary in their own right.

This is a collection of guitar-driven music, which should come as no surprise. Ciravolo is President of Schecter Guitar Research, while his wife and collaborator Tish, founded Daisy Rock Guitars. This pair knows their way around stringed instruments.

The premise of this collection is also unusual. Each song  (except one) was lyrically created by the guest vocalist, and Michael Ciravolo added the music. An All-Star collection of popular music participants comes together to create a collage of sound that offers something for everyone. There are cuts that echo 80’s power rockers like The Cult, The Cure and U2, while others taste of death metal, rap and even some not so syrupy pop. What isn’t present here is anything with a keyboard or synthesizer. A disclaimer on the album booklet claims “No animals harmed and no synthesizers used in the making of this album”.  Indeed!

Michael Aston of “Gene Loves Jezebel” is the initial guest on “Road To Rosario”, and his deep baritone mixes flawlessly with melodic guitar work and deep backbeat percussion by Dirk Doucette, also of “Gene Loves Jezebel” . Michael Rozon handles the drums. Rozon is a major contributor on the entire recording, as he recorded, mixed and produced it when he wasn’t busy playing various instruments.  This cut lures you in like catnip to a tomcat.

That attraction is satisfied by a large slice of sonic sustenance when “The Awakening” frontman Ashton Nyte lets loose on “Storm”.  The acoustic and electric guitar work by Michael Ciravolo (also on bass here) combines with a manic backbeat to take the listener back three decades to the best of non-electronic music. Nyte’s pleading vocals enhance a great lyric that includes “and the storm can wait/ wait outside/ for another sacrifice”.

“Man of Faith” is a collection of talent only seldom occurring. Wayne Hussey of “the Mission” tackles the vocals while Nyte and Johnny Indovina (Human Drama) back him up. Simon Gallup (The Cure) gives the bass a fresh sound while Ciravolo shows off his acoustic chops. The lyric of a conflicted person dealing with modern religion is also one of the strongest on the album

Chances are if one were to look for a 70’s era song to re-create into a death metal headbanger, Marc Bolan’s “T-Rex”  glam band would not have been one of the first places to explore. That, however, is exactly what the collective has done with “20th Century Boy.” Al Jourgensen of “Ministry” fronts this one and his “gravel in a blender” voice make’s the listener forget Bolan ever existed. Ciravolo wrings the last bit of reverb out of his guitar while Rozon is a one-man rhythm section, playing bass, drums, and percussion. Angela Carole Brown adds a feminine touch to the backing vocals to take the roughest edges off the sound.

Another survivor of the 70’s and 80’s, Robin Zander of “Cheap Trick”, gives a bit of pop influence to “Drifting Away” with his recognizable vocal style. The guitar work here by Ciravolo is, again, exceptional while Rudy Matchinga (Red Scare) drops in to add a Richter-scale bass line. Michael Anthony(Van Halen) Marc Danzeisen (The Riverdogs) and Nyte create a strong backing vocal triumvirate as well.

Michael Ciravolo has been a guitarist in “Human Drama” for most of his professional life, so the addition of the band’s frontman, Johnny Indovina, should come quite naturally. On “Memory of Love”, the symphonic mood is lifted and carried by Indovina’s strong tenor. His pleading voice on the song’s chorus is plaintive to the point of tears. “My memory of love can’t be taken away/ but it stands in the distance shrinking./ I shout, but my memory of love is fading away.” he wails, making us fully empathetic to his dilemma. Pando (Flock of Seagulls) also adds a wicked bass line. 

Next up is a Ciravolo compilation. Michael is joined by Tish on “Look Up”, a title that was inspired by today’s “stare at the phone constantly” culture. She sings, he strums, and Rozon doubles on bass and skins to create a rock masterpiece destined for great things as a single and video.  The only nitpicking I can offer with this one is the fact that Tish’s vocal gets a bit lost in the mix. She has a lovely voice and it would have been advantageous to be able to hear it a bit better. Maybe when you are in the guitar business you want them to dominate. As usual, the guitar work here is outstanding, but the vocal should have been turned up a couple of more notches on the mixing board, IMHO.  I especially loved the chorus, and the instrumental fadeout makes me wonder how it was done without any keyboards. Great stuff.

“Un-Natural Disaster” is a different mix of musical styles. dUg Pinnick of Kings X combines with hip-hop legend Ice T  to create a headbanging throbber with a rap backing vocal. Michael Ciravolo also manages to get sounds out of a six-string that shouldn’t be possible. Pete Parada, who has sat behind the drum kit for more bands than can be mentioned,  but most recently wields the sticks for "The Offspring", shows up for a cameo performance that enhances the pensive mood. Wind this one up, and watch the house windows shake.

The ambience is flipped 180 degrees is with “The Long Goodbye”, sung again by Hussey. Tish Ciravolo adds her considerable bass guitar talents to this one, while Nyte and Evi Vine pair up on backing vocals. Hussey’s wringing tale of loss offers “I’m dying every time I think of you / forevermore, the vow we swore.”  while the grinding guitars create a mournful backdrop.

Indovina adds a second slice with “Beauty Lies Within”. This slower number is highlighted by twin bass guitar work by the dueling Michaels (Ciravolo and Rozon) while Doucette appears again on percussion.

“Bloodless and Fragile”  is an eight-minute composition of late 60’s psych-rock that takes the album to a different plane once again. Nyte returns to vocalize a moaning lead backed by Michael Ciravolo on guitars, bass, and an electric sitar. You can smell the incense and watch the whirling rainbows in your head listening to this one.

No less a vocalist than Evi Vine drops in to add “I Will Follow You”  to the collective. This atmospheric tune is made exceptional by each Ciravolo handling their respective guitar specialty while Rozon mixes drum programming to Doucette’s live drumming for a unique sound. There is an ethereal beauty to Vine’s voice that lifts the song to new heights.

“Purr Machine” alumni Betsy Martin and Kevin Kipnis are the guests on “Heliotrope”. Martin penned the lyric and Kipnis handles the four string. Martin’s willowy vocal adds personality to an upbeat tune mixed with somber lyrics.

The title song returns Nyte to the microphone to lend his exclusive sound to the words he created. This slow, climactic cut ties the entire album together beautifully. It is like dropping the final piece into a jigsaw puzzle and then basking in the glory of an accomplishment well achieved. 

“Finding Beauty in Chaos” is really a horse of several different colors. The combinations of talent, genres, and vocal styles add up to an incredible listen. I was recently asked to compile a list of the best recordings of 2018. Since this was before I had listened to “FBIC”, my list will be getting edited. This one will be somewhere in my top three.

If you are searching for the perfect gift for the audiophile who has everything. pick up a copy of this one. With 14 songs stretching out to over 80 minutes of listening pleasure, it will become a recording cherished by the person lucky enough to receive it.

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