After spending well over 30 years as a key member of Pallas, guitarist Niall Mathewson has stepped out on his own with a varied collection of pieces that, as the title suggests, attempts to demonstrate his more eclectic influences.
Niall’s playing has always impressed me and it is very interesting to hear him outside of the band setup and taking on vocals plus a variety of other instruments too. The playing is uniformly excellent, Niall bringing friends on board to help out with some of the vocals but otherwise performing everything himself. The result is a highly listenable and varied album that works as a unified whole rather than a collection of odds and ends. A great deal of care has obviously gone into making Eclectic Electric sound as good as it can and it is highly recommended to anyone with a liking for Pallas or melodic prog in general.
On the Pallas Website Niall has provided a useful track by track overview of the influences and, as he says, some are more obvious than others, such as opener Creep with its old school riffing, Niall playing and singing the whole thing on his own. There is an interesting quirky section in the middle amidst the driving rhythm and guitar pyrotechnics and overall this is an entertaining scene setter, Niall’s vocals being particularly enjoyable.
Seven of the tracks feature vocals, one of the best being Ascension which builds beautifully into an uplifting chorus, Niall’s guitar solo judged to perfection. Gerry Jablonski adds vocals to the Hawkwind-like rocker One Step On while The Girl In The Attic features Melissa Allan’s wordless tones. Written for a movie trailer it has a touch of the Harry Potter’s about it and is very good indeed. Left It Behind is the only track in the set not written by Niall and is sung here by the writer, Robert Meulman, Niall building the song around a vocal sample of Robert he found online.
The first time I heard In This Broken World I thought “James Bond” and from his notes that is exactly what Niall set out to do. And it works, I’d take it over the theme that’s currently plying the airwaves any day. Wouldn’t it be nice if they gave these tracks to lesser known artists rather than it being all PR and hype for the already well known? In Niall’s version Robert Bruce adds a lovely vocal that works beautifully among the lush instrumentation.
The instrumental tracks, all played entirely by Niall, are so much more than simply linking mechanisms and add much to the breadth of sounds to be heard across the album. The Last Horizon is cinematic in feel, twinkling bells adding detail as the piece builds on acoustic guitar, electric soloing in the background before bursting out. There are elements of Mike Oldfield at the start and a hint of Marillion’s Grendel amid the rocking section making for an entertaining listen. Running Man is pacy and interesting, all the parts again put together very well, opening out into a widescreen finale, while Undiscovered Land sounds as mysterious as you might expect until the well realised Gilmour-esque solo.
On a smaller scale, Mortis is particularly interesting. On face value a haunting yet jaunty amalgam of harp, cello and female voice, but apparently it was all played on guitar – nicely done! The album finishes in stately fashion with an epic, a 9-minute semi-instrumental in the style of Dave Gilmour with an extended sax driven mid-section.
Niall has producing an entertaining, varied and listenable album that bears repeated plays. To his credit he has utilised a very personal style that has served him well and hopefully, as suggested by the album’s title, this will be the first of a number of such releases.
01. Creep (4:39)
02. The Last Horizon (6:07)
03. Ascension (5:38)
04. One Step On (3:58)
05. Mortis (1:44)
06. The Girl in The Attic (2:29)
07. Running Man (6:03)
08. In This Broken World (5:51)
09. Undiscovered Land (4:47)
10. Left It Behind (4:12)
11. Vista 2 (4:20)
12. In The Depths (9:45)
Total time – 60:01
Niall Mathewson – Guitar, Bass, Drums, Keyboards, Vocals
Robert Bruce – Vocals (8), Backing Vocals (3)
Gerry Jablonski – Vocals (4), Backing Vocals (3)
Melissa Allan – Vocals (6)
Robert Meulman – Vocals (10)
Record Label: Independent
Year Of Release: 2015