Thursday, 22 December 2011

Vitalij Kuprij - High Definition 1997

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Neo-Classical Metal / Instrumental Metal / Progressive Metal
Original Release Date: 1997
Label: Shrapnel Records

Classic Rock Forum
The following compositions contain all the elements that make this music so grand; melody, harmony, structure, rhythm, precision, aggression, speed, synchronization, perfect execution, and sophistication. Every track on this album is exceptional! The energy these two musicians have together, along with the outstanding drumming from Jon Dornan, will undoubtedly set your ears on fire.

High Definition is a very intense album. A monstrous masterpiece that goes beyond the genre of neo-classical, which I hope you’ll find as inspiring and rewarding as I have.

Vitalij Kuprij - Keyboards

Greg Howe - Guitars, Bass

Jon Doman - Drums

Produced by Greg Howe
All music Written by Vitalij Kuprij, except (*).
Engineered by Greg Howe.
Mixed by Kent Heckman, Vitalij Kuprij and
Greg Howe at Red Rock Recording.

All Keyboards, Guitars and Bass recorded at Greg Howe Studio.
Acoustic Piano recorded at Red Rock Recording.
Drums recorded at Moore Music Recording studio.

Christopher Ruel
High Definition is a monumental instrumental effort that sets the new high water mark in the neoclassical arena. High Definition has taken the neoclassical genre to an entirely new level that definitely rivals and may even exceed the traditional European predecessors of the neoclassical movement. This album is highlighted by the blistering fast, synchronized dual lead work and lead trading of Ukrainian-exported keyboard wizard and performing classical pianist, Vitalij Kuprij of Philadelphia, PA, on keyboards and his newly found neighbor and guitar slinger, Greg Howe of Easton, PA. Be prepared if you have not heard this one yet, because it will take you straight between the eyes. The composition is superb. The execution is unbelievable. The breadth and depth are staggering. This album is a nonstop cavalry charge from start to finish. Greg Howe, known mainly for his jazz fusion or really undefinable style, demonstrates that he is a very capable candidate in the neoclassical arena.

The composition contains all of the elements that I like to see: melody, harmonization, structure, time changes, catchy rhythms, unexpected changes of direction, and relentless drive. The playing has finesse, precision, feeling, and grasp that has never been known in the neoclassical sphere before this CD was released. Greg Howe delivers his brand of barely contained aggression with blinding speed that that is so refined that it is deft. The synchronized sections with Kuprij will have you scratching the sand off your jaw after it hits the ground - the speed and synchronization is that amazing. It is as fast as anything I have ever heard and it is musical and accessible at the same time! This level of sophistication coupled with playing this speedy and tight has never been seen before in any type of music.

So, now if you have bought High Definition based on this review, you need to be prepared for the way that this CD unfolds. If you hate it when somebody tells you the plot to a movie you are going to see and don't like it when somebody ruins a surprise for you, then skip over this paragraph. Otherwise, you should be prepared for a slow opening that sort of an ominous prelude that is a build up to real punch. Vitalij and Greg are going to play with your heads on the first track, "Beyond Infinity", which merely hints at what is to follow. And, this build up continues into the second track "High Definition" for about three minutes, until it finally delivers the neoclassical
punch melody that has been promised. And, then you know, if only for a brief time, that you are in for some serious @#@#. Now that you have been teased and tormented for two tracks, Vitalij and Greg are done messing with you and they are ready to pull out all of the stops. The ascending arpeggio theme lets you know that High Definition is coming on straight ahead for you with "Symphony V" into the neoclassical frenzy you have been promised.

Listen closely for the synchronization of keyboard and guitar on "Symphony V". The
synchronization is so tight that some people that I have played it for can not tell that it is two different instruments. That is how good it is.

Well, after "Symphony V" you can expect this virtuoso level of musicianry and composition to continue for the remainder of the album. Every track on High Definition is exceptional and lends balance to the album in some way. The standout for me is "Opus I (Theme By Paganinni)". This single track really captures all of the positive elements of the synergy between these two great virtuosos, Kuprij and Howe, not to exclude the inspired and exceptional drumming of Jon Doman that sets the pace and drive of the entire effort. Jon Doman must have been ready to run a marathon after the exercise he got making this album. "Opus I" is loosely based around a theme by Nicolo Paganinni, the legendary violin virtuoso and composer that the two pay tribute to in this composition... or should I say the virtuoso that the two shamelessly outdo and relegate to the recesses of history for all time, leaving Paganinni only his compositional skills to distinguish him. Greg Howe clearly demonstrates that the electric guitar is the instrument of choice for modern
virtuosos by enunciating the wide scope of technique, speed, tone, dynamics, and feel that is available in the electric guitar that can not be gotten out of the violin or any other instrument for that matter. But, Kuprij steadies our thinking by reminding us that the piano and keyboard with a talented player can keep up with just about anything Greg Howe can do on the guitar... except, arguably, the nuances that can only be gained by direct contact with the strings. (But, if you have any doubt about this, take a listen to "Sky Overture" by Uli Jon Roth and he will prove my point
here... I'm sure I might get some disagreeable e-mail on this one though...)

The music in High Definition is intense, driving, speedy, precise, inspiring, overwhelming, moving, enthralling, and will have you jumping out of your chair, frothing at the mouth like a wildman before you are through listening to it! On a scale from 1 to 10, High Definition is an 11. It is the single album that is the best of breed in the neoclassical genre and has not yet been topped. If you like or ever liked neoclassical, you must buy this one. Your life will be incomplete without having heard High Definition. If you are a neoclassical fanatic, High Definition
will be the centerpiece of your collection. Truly World Class. For those of you who have undergone continual disappointment ever since Yngie's Rising Force album, this is the one that takes it to the next level and delivers what you have been wishing for... but maybe had given up on. So, if neoclassical depression has got you down, Dr. Chris prescribes a dose of High Definition to bring your heart back to life and get your pulse going once again. When you hear the speed and precision, you will understand why they named it High Definition ... they weren't kidding around with you now!

The Artists

Vitalij Kuprij is an accomplished composer, pianist, and keyboardist whom has played at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and Avery Fisher Hall. He is originally from Ukraine but now resides in the USA. Vitalij has won numerous awards for his compositions and grandiose musicianship. By the age of 19, Vitalij had begun his first progressive metal band, Atlantis Rising, which later morphed into Artension, an aggressive progressive metal band with outstanding piano/keyboard solos. During Vitalij’s time with Artension, he began solo efforts and collaborations with several notable guitarists. The first guitarist he collaborated with and released an album with was Greg Howe, in 1997, “High Definition”.

Greg Howe is no slouch when it comes to the guitar, actually, he is a virtuoso of shred and jazz . Greg’s jazz style is immediately recognizable and unique. Greg is a left hand guitarist, and has adopted some extremely unique sounds and techniques. Not only does Greg have a successful solo career with 9 studio albums on his resume, he is very sought after as a session musician by pop artists like Michael Jackson, Enrique Iglesias, NSYNC, and Justin Timberlake. Greg has also had some pretty impressive collaborations with Richie Kotzen and Jordan Rudess.

I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how perfectly executed and heavy “High Definition” is. The compositions are complex with many layers, the guitar work is a shredder’s delight, and the piano/keyboard solos are beyond words.


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