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There are some people who are good at so many things that they can never quite seem to focus on excelling at any particular one. Then there are multi-talented folks like Bryan Beller, who don't have that problem. Many know Bryan from his three years of humorous and helpful Bass Player columns, others from his witty and informative manuals for SWR - where he managed product development, and still others from his righteous bass work with guitarist and Zappa disciple Mike Keneally. Just when you thought Beller couldn't possibly be good at another thing, he releases a solo album so good it makes you wonder why he bothered doing anything else.
View opens with one of two solo-bass pieces on the album, establishing a plaintive theme later recapitulated as a wailing guitar motif in the album's closer. In between, Beller's art mirrors life by showcasing his impressive musical breadth, all without looking like he's showing off. His knurly Mike Lull bass tone provides a sure foundation for riff-peppered instrumental bluesy fuzoid funk. Leading from the bottom like a bass player should, Beller often leaves the spotlight to Keneally and other guests. His own solos unfold confidently and he deftly kneads "out" passages into the buttery batter. But it's not all muso-madness - mixed in are sublime moments of melancholia, beauty, and joy, plus a couple of tracks, including a righteously rough rock number, that showcase Bryan's varied vocal skills.
View shows how terrific Beller is as a bassist, but it also establishes his real musical talent as a writer. It's a thrill to witness an artist like Beller find his voice with such a self-assured debut. Let's hope he gives us some more.
© 2003 United Entertainment Media. Reprinted from the November, 2003 issue of BASS PLAYER. Reprinted with permission from BASS PLAYER. For subscription information, please call (850) 682-7644 or visit http://www.bassplayer.com.