Australian-born guitarist Brett Garsed has a resume that includes more accolades and accomplishments than the next ten guitar players combined. Over the course of a storied career that began in 1985 with a mention in Guitar Player magazine’s “Spotlight” column, Garsed has recorded and performed all over the planet with countless luminaries in the music world including Frank Gambale, Dennis Chambers, Toss Panos and Allan Holdsworth, as well as members of Kiss, Nelson, and the Little River Band.
Dark Matter is Garsed’s 2nd solo release and it is a Prog-Metal goldmine. The propulsive title track starts things off with a rhythmic flutter of peculiar chords. The warm groove that unfolds alternates with an ascending cluster of power chords until the song finally explodes into a solo of jaw-dropping finger work and orchestrated Prog bits interspersed to keep the listener guessing. One of those things that seems to somehow sound a little different every time you listen, it’s quite an unusual arrangement. It’s an apt lead-off track because it functions very well as a heady harbinger of things to come.
Throughout Dark Matter, Garsed’s tasteful arrangements sound refreshing and original. His guitar work alternates between fluid and confrontational. One minute his soothing tones are like a graceful bird soaring over a vast body of water, and in the next breath his power chords crunch and chop like a mighty beast stomping through virgin forest. It’s a clever blend contrasting ugly tones and pretty ones, and it’s another hallmark of why this record is so unique.
“Avoid The Void” is another track worthy of special mention, as it too incorporates all the wildly divergent colors and contrasts in the Garsed guitar arsenal. The song starts in a mellow vein, vaguely reminiscent of the '70s Soft Rock sound. It’s melodious lead line only serves to lull you further into what seems at first like calm territory. The solo starts out clean, almost like an excerpt from a Donald Fagen record. Drummer Gary Pantazis and bassist Ric Fierabracci lay down a solid foundation, grooving along confidently until the simmer launches into full-on blaze as Garsed’s solo ignites. Moments later they’ve all settled back into the pocket. This roller coaster moment in the tune has a dizzying effect and it’s the penultimate example of a confident and commanding guitar wizardry that’s on display throughout the whole record.
A little taste of Brett & Band knocking out Hey T-Bone...
Whereas some Prog isn’t “metal” enough, and much Metal lacks Prog’s imagination, Dark Matter encapsulates the best of both worlds and stands alone as neither Metal or Prog. If I had to compare it to the work of another musician, I wouldn’t hesitate to put it on the same level as Joe Satriani’s recent work. But where Satch is recognizable and even somewhat predictable to a degree, Garsed is more daring and unconventional. Be it the use of jazzy chord structures or jumping bean arrangements, or any number of other unexpected twists and turns in the course he maps, Garsed isn’t afraid to go out on a limb and we are the lucky benefactors of his musical courage. This is bold, brave stuff, rife with adventurous arrangements, tones both cool and crass, and fret-burning solo work, and you aren’t likely to hear many guitar records like this.
For more information on Brett - be sure to check out this website: Brett Garsed.com