STRATTMAN – The Lie Of The Beholder (2014)
Roy STRATTMAN is a multi-instrumentalist / composer from the US and this is his debut release entitled “The Lie Of The Beholder“. I did think that I had come across the name before, and with a little searching, I realized that Roy is the guitarist and joint composer in the interesting Prog band Little Atlas.
The record label describes Roy’s music as ‘a tour-de-force of cutting edge progressive rock, complex tense and shot through with dark and menacing textures alternating with unexpected stabs of beauty and organic calm’.
Well, let’s see…
Although “The Lie Of The Beholder” is a solo album, Roy, who plays guitar, keyboards and sings, did have a little help along the way. The album also features awesome drummer Nick D’Virgilio from Big Big Train and lots more, Ricardo Bigai from Little Atlas on bass, together with a guest appearance from Steve Katsikas, also from Little Atlas.
Now Strattman is a full, stable band performing at various Prog festivals.
Opening tracks on any album have a tremendous job to do, in that they pave the way for the rest of the record, so how does “A Better World” fare? The track starts with some Spanish style guitar, the atmosphere changes via a spacey section with ‘astronaut’ voices then the track explodes a la IQ before settling back into more delicate late ’80s Floyd style areas. This is both a hard hitting track and a laid back track neatly packaged. Synths, mellotron and urgent/angry guitar slashes permeate around a very Gilmouresque vocal section.
“A Better World” is an opening track that that promises the listener that they are about to hear an amazing album.
“Caught Inside the Rain” is more psychedelically styled and contrasts the opening track beautifully. More mellotron and those urgent/menacing guitar riffs drive the third track, “A Candle in the Sun” which is a hugely atmospheric slab of a track effortlessly shifting from the gentler to the more urgent areas.
Two shorter, out and out rockier tracks follow in “Jaded” and “The Scene of the Crime” before another shift in direction raises its head in “Detonation”. A very gentle introduction belies the ruthless assault that is impending. Terrific guitar over keyboards suddenly ascends vertically into a heavy workout for the band. A beautiful vocal settles the proceedings down, but the darker side bubbles away in the background before reappearing. This is an imaginative track that sweeps in and out of the dark and light areas.
Almost right on cue, there is another diverse move in the music into the acoustic “Solace” which highlights nylon string guitar and flute / mellotron. This is a very melodic track which stands apart from the rest, simply because it is so different.
Next we have the title track “The Lie of the Beholder” and we have re-entered the more menacing side of Strattman, before a more gentle outro passage which seems to end very abruptly, but as the following song is “Connection Lost”, perhaps it is an attempt at some wry humor.
The penultimate track, “No Way Home” is accessed via a beautiful acoustic / electric guitar passage, great vocals, and just after the minute mark, an elevation of the sound before a return to the intro themes. Another step into the rougher side of Strattman, then slides back into the gentle phases and wheels back and forth. This track is another example of a powerful piece of writing and playing.
A very mellow, almost understated track, “The Fire Dies” sees the album out. Slower and certainly catchy, this is perhaps an unexpected ending to the record, but one which seems to work in all sorts of ways. This track seems to wrap the album up in such a way, that you want to reach out and press play again and settle back for another run-through.
“The Lie of the Beholder”, which seamlessly moves from light into shade and tranquil into heavy, shows the incredibly talents of Roy Strattman. The man is a terrific performer, composer and arranger, and as if this were not enough, he sings greatly.
It mixes progressive elements with sharp hard rock riffs, wonderful keyboards / mellotron with exquisite drumming, all wrapped in a ‘Rock’ context that will appeal everyone.
“The Lie Of The Beholder” is an album that gets inside your head within a few listens and certainly merits both the ‘One to Buy’ and ‘The Experience will last Forever’ stickers on the cover.
Don’t be fooled by the odd cover artwork, the advice is to give the album a few listens and then smile happily as you part with some of your hard earned cash without any regrets.
01 – A Better World
02 – Caught Inside The Rain
03 – A Candle In The Sun
04 – Jaded
05 – The Scene Of The Crime
06 – Detonation
07 – Solace
08 – The Lie Of The Beholder
09 – Connection Lost
10 – No Way Home
11 – The Fire Dies
Roy Strattman – vocals, guitar, keyboards
Nick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train, Spocks Beard) – drums
Ricardo Bigai (Little Atlas, Supersam) – bass
Steve Katsikas (Little Atlas) – piano, percussion
thanks to Jim Lawson
BUY IT !