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Azrael Block

a Studio release
by
Greg Rapaport

Release Year: 2003

Date Label Catalog # Comments
About the cd:(from his website, used by permission):
    Azrael Block is my third venture into instrumental fusion and probably my most ambitious. Twelve songs and 75 minutes long this recording was the most challenging and time consuming to make. I concentrated on trying to take the production to the next level and to incorporate new sounds and textures. I also concentrated on giving each song its own identity and making sure it was unique and cool. The biggest criteria I had for the tune was that it had to be able to pull its own weight without solos.

    Production Notes:
    This recording was done at my project studio Splinterhead

    Recording. I went for a new approach this time around. I took a lot of different production elements that were new to me and tried to employ them as best as I could in the context of this project.

    Taking the drums for instance, I changed my approach to them thanks to Simon Phillips and his production work on Derek Sherinian's projects. He uses an open airy type sound which I really like. He really spreads the drums across the stereo field and uses nice gating and reverb effects. So the drums sound big and you can really hear the actual tone of each drum. I did my best to emulate what he did I think I got somewhat close.

    The guitars also got a bit of an overhaul. This time around I used less gain and tried to create a more toneful sound all the way around. I also panned the solo effects either to the right or left of the source. That helped clear things up and bring out more of the dry sound without sacrificing the effect. I also wanted to incorporate many different soloing tones throughout each tune and throughout the disk itself.

    The bass remained unchanged for the most part. I just tried to make it sound clear and aggressive. I did throw a wah effect on it for one of the tunes which was kinda wacky, but other than that just a bit of reverb and that's it.

    The one thing that did change as far as instrumentation goes is the use of the Yamaha RS-7000 sequencer. I had a lot of fun with this thing. Basically it's a 16 track hardware seqencer with a built in 1028 voice synth. It's got 63 drumkits and loads of percussion instruments. It is also tweakable beyond belief. It has real time manipulation of the different voices through filters and effects and it's all automated so it records and plays back the real time changes. I slaved it to my Roland midi controller and synced it with the 1680 and R-70 and proceeded to have a blast. I mainly used the RS-7000 as a support instrument. It can be very easy to get carried away with a new piece of equipment so I kept my enthusiasm in check. After all I'm trying to be a guitar player, not a techno guy.

    The keyboards shared duties with the RS-7000. Essentially when I couldn't get the sound I was looking for with the Yamaha I'd go for the Korg.
Added To Proggnosis Database on: 11/30/2003 12:00:00 AM
Entry Last Updated on: by:
  1. Azrael Block
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  4. Interlude - A
  5. Skitzophraniac
  6. Uncle Knucklez
  7. Flatline
  8. Interlude - B
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  10. Difunckt
  11. Dinner And Dancing
  12. No Solace
Greg Rapaport
All Instruments

Reviewed by MJBrady on 06 Dec 2003


On his 4th solo effort, Greg Rapaport delivers his finest effort to date. Let me start this review by targeting the potential and current fans of Gregs music, he plays all instrumental, heavy progressive music, that is both melodic and technical, and should appeal to the fans of progressive metal, instrumental progrock, or guitar based hard fusion. On his last cd - Wyrd I made some comparisons to the likes of Michael Harris, Cyril Achard & Martone. All of these artists have a couple things in common, one, they are stepping outside of the typecastings of instrumental guitar based music, to create musical offerings that are based predominantly on compositions as opposed to the musicians technical prowess on their respective instruments, and two, they are guitarists.

So with Azrael Block, Greg has admittedly been enjoying the benefits of experience, he has taken on the challenge of not only being his own composer, instrumentalist, artist and producer. He now has found the engineering aspect of music a skill worth pursuing. It is evident that he has been a great student of all of his endeavors, as the aural factor of this cd is nothing short of pristine. he employs much more atmosphere and headspace through the course of this recording, and he ventures into the idiom of creating a listening experience with what is a solid effort both in terms of sound and composition.

It was only a matter of time that musicians like Greg Rapaport would be able to deliver a quality production from the confines of their own home, without the demands of labels, managers, and the rest of the corruption that is the music biz. Now musicians can get hold of quality studio gear without breaking the bank so to speak, and with some talent and learning ability, musicians can take their music into their own hands, from the onset of compostion to the end that is personal distribution of their finished product. This is a great time for integrity driven music. No longer do musicians have to compromise for the demands of 'the biz', they can now do things on their own terms. But enough on that, my point was that Greg Rapaport has taken his experiences with all of that, and has created a highly satisfying piece of progressive instrumental music.

You will notice that Greg has either performed or programmed all of the instruments on this cd, and trust me when I say, that the music as a whole does not suffer from some of the shortcomings that typically are associated with such efforts. He is using a very convincing drum system, and the sounds and time signatures are very much sounding true to life. The other sounds are performed, and he does quite well as the guitarist and bassist, with keyboards providing more in the way of effect and backdrop. Overall I would give this cd a high recommendation to the readers that are into progressive instrumental, guitar centered, music. Try going to his site, and give some of the samples a shot.