John Miles' lyrics of one of the most famous songs in history goes as follows; “Music was my first love and it will be my last. Music of the future and music of the past”. Completely true in my opinion, with one personal addition; “guitar music”. So every time an album, especially the instrumental ones have found their way to my desk, I curiously unwrap them and hope to find out; this album will totally blow me away. This time the album Stardust Requiem of Belgian guitar player Hans Van Erven found its way, hopefully pleasing me as I hoped for. Turnhout born Hans Van Erven has been playing since the age of eleven and after studying classical music at RISKO followed by a Jazz guitar study that took three years. He got to play with the late Joe Cocker and the aforementioned John Miles, before moving to France to join fusion band; Stolen. In the meantime he is a guitar teacher at CIAM Bordeaux and now it was about time to release a real solo album under his own name.
Stardust Requiem consists of nineteen compositions, from which the last three can be seen as one coherent piece of music. If you want to label Hans, you will make it hard on yourself, for the compositions on the album cover the area from smooth jazz rock; like in Red Sun, a very impressive composition with piano and clear jazz guitars, to electronic metal fusion on The Fifth Gate. On the other side you will find blues on Hans' Blues, a song with numerous guest guitarists, like my favourites Eugene Berger and Jean Fontanille, to the completely over the top version of the classic Flight Of The Belgian Bumble Bee, his own interpretation of the song many guitarists have tried to master.
Compositions I do have to mention are the beautiful fusion composition Glassy Sky, where the guitar plays over a grooving rhythm section accompanied by a cool piano. Walking On Air is another one that I like to mention, a recognizable version, well-orchestrated, suitable to play in wintertime. N-Land sees Hans Van Erven paying a tribute to Jeff Beck, which results in a stunning composition. The title track Stardust Requiem takes you back to the eighties; shredding Yngwie style, with a prominent guest performance of my all-time favourite Tony MacAlpine on an eight string guitar. Another guest performance sees Tribute, where Australian Brett Garsed contributes in his own style, combining shred with fusion. Songs that show the incredible craftsmanship as a guitar player are the of Van Halen reminding The Space Is Crying and the electronically combustion of Tapping Into Eternity. Towards the end of the album Hans tributes his daughter Ewena with an acoustic piece, with background sounds performed by Ewena herself.
I think Hans Van Erven has shown the world what he is capable of, Stardust Requiem is an album that sees many styles, all perfectly blended together to a coherent album. Sometimes compositions are obviously a showcase for Hans' guitar playing, but generally the songs are solid as compositions and fun to listen to. If you are a guitar fan, like myself, this is an album that keeps interesting and takes you through a world filled with different guitar styles.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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