Review of Dovetonsil “Chant Unchant” by Nils Rurack

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Dovetonsil: Chant Unchant

Nils Rurack is a fusion guitarist from Germany. Now he lives in Missouri and he is still a fusion guitarist. He wrote this.

You can buy Dovetonsil “Chant Unchant” in the Carl King Shop.

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The last time I visited with my friend Carl he gave me a CD before I left. He asked if I would mind giving a review. It was a CD written, recorded and performed by a man named John Citrone a.k.a. Dovetonsil named “Chant Unchant.”

Since I like discovering new music I said yes. I had no idea what I signed up for.

A week after I made it home I still hadn’t listened to the CD and I started to feel bad because I made a promise. So I put the CD in the player and waited for the music to start playing.

“Holy mother of Batman, this is awesome!”

That was my initial gut reaction during the first of 35 songs. The first 5 minutes of two and a half hours of music. And this was just the beginning. I haven’t listened to the CD often enough yet to write
a review. As a matter of fact I still haven’t heard the last 5 songs on disc two. You may ask why I haven’t since I am apparently smitten with this album. Because the music demands your attention. This is not a set of discs you start playing and then turn your attention to your kids. Or wife. Girlfriend. Video games. You name it. This music make you not only listen but explore. There are little gems hidden in the songs that make you giggle or laugh like a maniac.

“Chant Unchant” from Dovetonsil takes you on a musical journey. Rarely have I heard an album where so many different elements and styles fly by yet it all works and goes well together. The main genre is rock music. It contains any number of influences from experimental, prog, funk, Zappaesque to folk music and singer/songwriter genres. There are odd meters and tuplets, “speech” rhythms. There are stories and anecdotes.

Chant (Disc 1)
Git Outta My Face Sucka does exactly what every opening track should do: Give you a glimpse of what to expect with an attitude of taking no prisoners. Reminiscent of Vai during the Flexible era this tune adds funk, odd meters and even a hint of polyrhythms in the most playful of ways. Dovetonsil is here and there is no going back.

Followed by a beautiful, mellow rock song there is an element of surprise in every corner. Beautiful vocal melodies and harmonies.

The Jellybean Fiasco takes you into the realm of groovy Fusion with a Zappa inspired guitar solo which introduces you to another dimension of music and influences on this album.

This is where things get weird. Or do they? Dr. Nikolas J. Buttergurdy’s Magikal Elixir announces itself in the Zappaesque fashion but then quickly turns into one of the best rock musical songs I’ve ever heard. Yeah, it’s that good. I could write a review of that song alone and it would exceed a single page.

Vermillion Falls keeps the influence from Frank Zappa alive. Mind you, when I say this you can hear that John had listened to his share of Frank Zappa. However, he uses some of the typical elements and builds them into his own songs.

Which is why Gundown takes you straight into a Spaghetti Western. John creates all these different styles of music with ease and an appetite for perfection in arrangement. Another tool he handles perfectly are dynamics. The music supports the storytelling in intensity and dramatic effect.

Antahkarana. You’ve got to listen for yourself. I can’t even describe what I want to say. Non-traditionalacapellagospel. Is that a word?

I Am The Scorpion is a heavier Fusion song with some nice soloing. If this was food or wine tasting you would call it a palet cleanser. Perfectly executed music that appeals to the ear in a more conventional way. Let me use this opportunity to mention the superb musicianship of all players and singers on this album.

Stockard Channing takes you down the road to Prog Rock. Full of changes in rhythm, harmony and melody it delivers a mix of bits and pieces you already experienced on this album with something entirely new.

Let Kudryavka blow you away. Don’t even think about it or analyze it. Prog Rock Fusion at its best.

How It Used To Be. John has a knack for meaningful mellow rock songs with a message.

Moon is another venture into improvised Jazz inspired music. Very atmospherical while A Very Important Bicycle takes an instrumental ballad to a whole new level.

Rocka Rocka Rolla takes you into Punk Rock honoring artists that contributed to this genre. You didn’t expect that. Well I sure didn’t. And again it is done well and very authentic.

Kitty With A Man Face is a nice jingle which takes you to the final track Salem: 1692. A dark, bombastic and dramatic moment in history.

Wait, that was only disc 1? I just sat through an almost 80 minute tour de force of creative music and it was only have of it? That is a lot to digest and I need to get another drink before I continue.

Unchant (Disc 2)

1971. What a great grunge inspired rock song with little touches that make it different like the vocal harmonies. This is also another example of great storytelling.

War Is The Answer is probably my favorite song of the entire album. Together with this and that and …etc. In all seriousness, this song is very reminiscent of the mid-70s Zappa era yet it is only loosely arranged that way. Great vocal and musical performances. Hammer Fight is a quick grunge rock song to give your ears a little rest before Morpheus Blues keeps you guessing where
all these elements came from.

On the Unchant side you will find a great number of different genres that are all well executed and support the lyrics where applicable. John goes from Country to Electronic and Jazz. There is a short phone conversation that probably every musician in the world has experienced at least once.

Be Love and Emily are another couple of alternative or mellow rock songs that stand out through their vocal arrangements.

Biology is one of those short experimental songs that takes you by surprise before Blackberries unleashes the beauty of a folk song. The story element is very prominent again.

Another example of matching the lyrics to a genre is Seaside which turns out to be a Surf song.

I Believe is a very authentic bluegrass/blues song with harsh social commentary that turns quite dramatic…and exciting.

I’m a little baffled where She Was Alive When I Left came from. It’s a fantastic solo piano piece and even I cannot argue why it should be on this album. Except that the title is awesome.

At this point it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief. There’s a funny piece left, Rudy’s Rock And Roll Jam, and an experimental noise/sound piece The Tiresome Ghosts.

Last but not least John adds an audio thank you card which he claims wasn’t his idea but is a neat idea nonetheless.

What a trip. Seriously. After 5 years in the making you get two and a half hours of pure excitement and entertainment. The musicians and vocalists are highly skilled professionals, the songwriting is exquisite and versatile. John Citrone is a great story teller and he has a knack for placing the right soundtrack to the right story.

After enjoying this album it seems like I got to know John probably even better than sitting with him in a bar for two and a half hours. I can highly recommend this album. You should buy it.

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Nils Rurack is a fusion guitarist from Germany. Now he lives in Missouri and he is still a fusion guitarist. He wrote this.

You can buy Dovetonsil “Chant Unchant” in the Carl King Shop.

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