Exposé Online banner

Charles Brown — Explorer of Life
((Not on label) no#, 2017, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2020-02-28

Explorer of Life Cover art

Guitarist and composer Charles Brown is one of Colorado’s best kept secrets — though he has a half dozen previous recordings to his credit, this is his first time on my radar. Explorer of Life is a powerful and dynamic album of surefooted instrumental prog-rock, informed somewhat by jazz-fusion and classical ideas as well, presented in a contemporary context, though classic 70s prog ideals are never too far away. Throughout the ten tracks presented here, he presents power, majesty, and grand melodic concepts that reach forward and at the same time recall the greatness of the past with reverence, and no lyrics to get in the way of the theme, which I suppose is exploration of the journey of life, although that could easily just be my projection onto the music due to the album and track titles. Fact is, this album was released in 2017, but it’s just reaching me now, but as they say it’s never too late. Take a track like “Ecliptic Voyage,” encompassing many of the wide array of influences, including Steve Hackett in his days with Genesis, followed by the powerful hard rock edge of Rush’s Alex Lifeson or Pete Townshend, but it’s when the gripping melodic dual-tracked leads come to the fore, soaring above it all that all of the color and brilliance of Brown’s compositions make their greatest impact. Even more amazing is that, with only the exception of keyboardist Steve Espinosa, Brown has played all of the instruments – including drums, himself through many multi-tracked layers of guitars, guitar synthesizer and more; at times one van hear seven or more layers of guitars in a moving melodic panorama. One unique track here where Brown shows his exceptional skills on nylon string acoustic is his interpretation of Bach’s “Prelude (from Cello Suite #1),” the result being positively magnificent in its subtle beauty. Two tracks, “Wind of Darkness” and “The Darkest Night,” merge together into a beautiful hard rock epic that carefully delivers full-on power while eschewing the metallisms that Brown carefully avoids throughout this finely crafted album. Closer “When the Sun Rises” may be the album’s shortest track at a little over two minutes, but is a reassuring and delicate statement that brings it all home.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Charles Brown

Latest news

2021-01-18
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more

2020-12-09
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Lady Lake - Unearthed – By one scheme of reckoning, rarities collections come three categories: those that are only of interest to established fans of the artist, those that can serve as an introduction to a newbie, and...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues