Fourth Estate — Finesse and Fury
(Hapi Skratch HS 70001, 1992, CD)
Fourth Estate — See What I See
(Hapi Skratch 70002, 1995, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1997-02-01
This writer was completely unfamiliar with Fourth Estate prior to their performance on day one of Progscape II, but apparently they've been around a while — certainly long enough to release two CDs (and two cassettes before that). A power guitar trio that hails from Fort Collins, Colorado, one might compare them to the Steve Morse band, as they rip through a number of different styles with relative ease, axeman Dave Beegle driving the show with his Transperformance DTS (a guitar which can be automatically retuned while it's being played) and solidly supported by bassist Fred Babich and drummer Dave Spurr (Jim Iltis on the earlier album). The compositions tend to be melody driven, full of power and punch, and while not particularly complex — and perhaps more pure rock than prog, they are nonetheless incisive, gripping, and tasty. There isn't a dull moment on either of these discs.
The earlier disc opens with a rousing cover of Bach's "Ode to Joy," then moves into a short atmospheric piece that leads directly into the more fusion-based "Grunt Rock," featuring Beegle's trademark guitar pyrotechnics. Once you think you've got the band all figured out, they drop in "Mason Street Shuffle," which in a parallel world would be called a bluegrass tune. And so it continues, bouncing around a variety of styles but always touching home in that slightly fusion-tinged instrumental power rock area inhabited by folks like Bonilla, Eric Johnson, and the aforementioned Morse. Purists indeed, they make it clear in the liner notes that no keyboards, synths, or sequencers were used on either disc.
See What I See uses a slightly heavier approach, with longer tracks offering more room for the band to stretch out, and the integration of some new influences, apparent on the title track, "Crazy Ivan" and the three part "Kara Kum." Stylistically, this album is more cohesive; rather than the patchwork of styles represented on the first, this one flows better from one track to the next. And did I mention heavier? Certainly Jimi's influence is everywhere, but nowhere more than on "Primal Roots," a short interlude that leads into the hard-rocking "Hammer Song," and "Blue Flame," which brings the Hendrixian blues element to the fore. In short, the later disc is stronger on a pure emotional level, but both of these discs are exceptional, must-haves for any fan of instrumental guitar rock.
Related artist(s): Fourth Estate
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more