Acoustic Alchemy is every bit as vibrant as they ever were. They have been at this since 1981 but they still sound fresh and interesting. Acoustic Alchemy has always been known for their signature sound of using nylon stringed guitars and steel stringed acoustic guitars with electric bass, synthesizer and drums. Nothing has changed and they still remain true to their format.
They have a great chemistry on stage and they perform their music with passion and precision. This band has a tight, controlled, carefully constructed sound. They also have a great sense of dynamics and can make an impact without becoming overbearing with the overall volume. This is something that is unfortunately rare these days and it is refreshing to see a band that takes their overall sound seriously and takes steps to control it.
The sound and balance of this band was carefully crafted. The synthesizer sounds were interesting and blended well with the rest of the band. The Bass and Drums were present but never overpowering. With a well manicured background such as this, the nuance and complexity of the acoustic guitars could be heard. Overall the band sounded fantastic and it was very easy on the ears.
They played with high energy and all of their lines were crisp. They played with a great sense of time and were able to groove while still supporting the rest of the band. Much of this seems to have to do with the fact that Greg Grainger (Bass) and Gary Grainger (Drums) have played together as a rhythm section for many years. They are brothers and have played extensively together. This shows in their playing and it is immediately apparent that they understand each other’s sense of time. They immediately lock into a groove and have a dialog in their playing. They play off of each others rhythmic ideas and this keeps things constantly changing and fresh.
Greg Carmichael and Miles Gilderdale (guitar) continually impressed the audience whether it was an ultra clean nylon string guitar lead or a blistering electric guitar solo. These two guitarists showcased each instrument in any of their tunes and provided a great variety of different guitar sounds and techniques. They both have a serious approach to what they do and their playing has a great sense of feel while always being precise. Each of them looks to push the boundaries of the instrument and they consistently come up with surprising solo material.
Some reviewers have criticized this group of having too much of a “Musak-y” type of sound. This is somewhat understandable when one considers that this band pioneered this format and very soon many artists jumped on board to attempt similar things. Their success created an entire style that lends itself to applications where easy listening would be an advantage from a production standpoint.
However, to dismiss this band as another one of those “Smooth Jazz – Acoustic Guitar” acts would be a grave mistake. There is much more going on here than what is seen on the surface. The musicians are accomplished and technically adept and play with great feel and dynamics. The interplay between them on stage is interesting and engaging and they seem to pull it off with a sense of ease and comfort this is not generally seen these days.
This band is outstanding and should not be missed. Anyone that appreciates well executed Contemporary Jazz would enjoy this show. Make sure to catch them the next time they are in town.
Reviewed by Michael Hesiak on 6/24/12