Is Al Garcia a guitar-playing bassist or a bass-playing guitarist? In this instance, an answer is exceptionally difficult to provide – because Garcia thinks and plays like/as both a bassist and a guitarist. ‘All Things Must Converge’ is a veritable solo album, featuring Garcia not only on basses and guitars but also on all drums and percussion instruments.
‘Labyrinth’ is the appropriately-named opening track: labyrinthine both rhythmically and in terms of harmonic movement, it features breathtaking solos on guitar and bass.
‘The eternal cycle’ is small epic – with a variety of mood and tempo changes, shimmering textures and complex drum patterns, it is equally prog rock and Holdsworthian fusion. There is also an abundance of melodic material here, and it is astonishing how Garcia manages to accommodate this all in just over 7 minutes, without ever allowing it to sound contrived.
‘Lingua franca’ goes ‘world’, for want of a better word: layered percussion, a 6/8 pattern – the descriptor ‘transcontinental gypsy music’ comes to mind here.
A guitar-synth-triggered church organ opens ‘A distant mirror’ – before things really get prog, Sizzling guitar synth solos, brief rapid-fire unison passages, and almost pastoral interludes. There are echoes of mid- to late-70s-era Jethro Tull here.
‘As luck would have it’ opens with shimmering bass chordal picking and contains fretless solos and tricky unison bass passages – this is the ‘bass’ track on the album, and a firm favourite.
‘I’ve been known’ slows things down at least a little and takes the music into ECM territory, with ‘piano’ phrases counterposing the playful-yet-jittery guitar offerings.
‘Two shakes’ (an – occasionally – latinesque burner) and the last track, ‘Simulacron’, encapsulate everything this album is about: composite melodies and rhythms, harmonic territory well beyond the mainstream. The latter also features a great drum solo: is there anything the man can’t do?
Not for the faint-eared (to coin a neologism), this is an excellent CD that will bear many, many listens.