View (CD Review)
by Cliff Engel
The International Institute of Bassists (originally Bassically.net)
Published November, 2003
Recognized primarily for his work with ex-Frank Zappa guitarist/solo artist Mike Keneally, bassist Bryan Beller has released View, his debut recording as a leader. As a hired gun, Beller has also appeared alongside guitarist nonpareil Steve Vai, Dweezil Zappa, and Wayne Kramer. Here on his first solo project, Beller, a Berklee graduate and former long-time Bass Player magazine columnist, has enlisted the playing of an outstanding supporting cast of highly respected musicians including Keneally and many Berklee veterans.
Best categorized as primarily rock/fusion instrumental, View is a masterfully crafted collection of thirteen tracks, eleven of which are Beller-penned originals. Laden with a fusion of rock, jazz, pop, world beat, and even solo acoustic/electric bass sounds, Beller offers the listener a panoramic view of his compositional skills which are infused with underlying themes that are often dense in layers but yet never lose touch with the audience. With his Mike Lull 5-string and Taylor AB-4 acoustic/electric bass, Beller deftly moves from the tight fingerstyle grooves of "Seven Percent Grade" to the articulate phrasing and chordal workout of "Backwoods" to the hard-driving rock riffs of "Bite."
Unlike most bass player-led projects where bass chops dominate from start to finish, Beller demonstrates that View is about the music first and foremost, but don't let him fool you either. Beller can blow, and he has the technical facility to prove it. Beller's playing, tone, and sensitivity to melody are second to none. His solo work on the Taylor AB-4 acoustic/electric bass is simply captivating and his adaptation of John Patitucci's "Backwoods" is emotionally provocative. A complete track listing includes: "Bear Divide", "Seven Percent Grade", "Supermarket People", "Elate", "Get Things Done", "Backwoods", "Bite", "Eighteen Weeks", "Projectile", "Wildflower", "No", "See You Next Tuesday", and "View."
Bottom Line: There is something for everyone on View, and you don't have to be a musician to enjoy this recording. Beller expresses the gamut of emotions and leaves the listener craving more. The view ahead of Beller's musical journey looks clear and bright.
Reprinted with permission from The International Institute Of Bassists, which was originally Bassically.net. Visit them at http://www.instituteofbass.com.