June 2, 2014

Progressive Instrumental Fusion Review: Bozzio Levin Stevens-Black Light Syndrome (Lmt. Ed. Colored 180 gm Vinyl-2 LPs)

Release Date: April 19, 2014
Label: Magna Carta

Terry Bozzio (Drums and Electronic Tape Loops), Tony Levin (Basses and Stick) and Steve Stevens (All Guitars) released their first album under the Bozzio Levin Stevens banner for Magna Carta Records in 1998. Black Light Syndrome hit the shelves and it was an instrumental gem that still holds up well to this day. Up to this point the release had not be reproduced on vinyl. Thanks to record store day that has changed the playing field for collectors and music lovers considerably.

Black Light Syndrome is now available in 180 gram vinyl with 600 copies pressed in the UK on royal blue translucent vinyl and only 400 copies in the US on blood red/black splattered translucent vinyl. I have the blood red copy and it looks amazing. The album comes housed in a gatefold LP jacket with two LPs. It is in my estimation one of the crown jewels of progressive instrumental rock fusion.

This album holds a special place in my heart and collection. Magna Carta was the first label to approach me about covering music for review in 1998 and this is the first album I reviewed. I was mesmerized by it then and it started my journey into progressive rock that continues to this day. I was ready for it at the time as I had been listening to jazz and jazz rock fusion for 15 years prior to jumping headlong into prog. This album was the perfect listening experience for my ears at the time and it pushed me to explore progressive music further.

This may have seemed to be an unlikely trio at the time however it turned out to be the right chemistry and talent to get this project done successfully. Tony Levin and Terry Bozzio already had a musical pedigree to die for and little did people know at the time how diverse and talented Steve Stevens was and they were about to find out. 

Stevens wows the listener continually by flipping back and forth from rocking and complex playing (“Falling In Circle”) to acoustic flamenco style (“Duende”). His diverse playing style meshes well with Levin’s bass and Chapman stick while Bozzio sounds like an orchestra of drums creating a wall of sound that could easily be more than one person if you didn’t know better. The diversity of the overall recording and the musicians involved make this a session that would be hard to match. “Chaos/Control” is the curtain closer and perhaps the best example of how this trio could jump from shredding (chaos) to jazz inflected passages (control) all in one track.
I have not listened to this album in quite some time now and my perception of it is much different now and I think the appreciation I have for what they accomplished in these sessions goes beyond what words can say at this point. The music still transports me and amazes me just like it did the first time I heard it.

I really appreciate vinyl, especially copies that come out on record store day as a limited run. It makes it all so special if you have a copy but for me I have the joy of reliving my exhilarating experience of my first listen and first label review all over again. It is a treat now and it always will be listening to these incredibly talented men taking it all to another level. Thank you Magna Carta for reissuing Black Light Syndrome in such fantastic way to celebrate it one more time in glorious vinyl!

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Black Light Syndrome, Book of Hours, Chaos/Control

Side One:

The Sun Road

Side Two:

Dark Corners

Side Three:

Black Light Syndrome
Falling In Circle

Side Four:

Book of Hours

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-Prog Rock Music Talk Founder
June 2, 2014

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

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