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Jim Matheos Away With Words (1999)

Jim Matheos — Away With Words (1999)

Jim Matheos

Jim Matheos — Away With Words
Born: November 22, 1962, Westfield, Massachusetts, US 
Location: Hartford, Connecticut, US
Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock
Album release: September 7, 1999
Record Label: Metal Blade Records – 3984-14275-2
Duration:     43:17
01. A Way With Words     4:39
02. Palindrome     3:31
03. Astronomies     4:16
04. The Language Of Silence     4:23
05. Piscataquog     4:07
06. A Conference Of Clouds     5:33
07. Mumbo Jumbo     3:37
08. Tongue Tied     3:07
09. The Last Light Of August     6:28
10. Goodnight, Goodbye     3:36
Jim Matheos (guitar)
Charlie Bisharat (violin)
Michael Manring (bass)
Mark Zonder (drums)
Website: http://jimmatheos.com/
Review by Steve Huey
¶  Six years after his first solo album, Fates Warning guitarist Jim Matheos returns with the follow-up, Away With Words. It's fairly similar to its predecessor, with Matheos performing gentle acoustic guitar-based instrumental pieces rather than the flashy prog metal of his full-time gig. Once again, it's tasteful and well-played, featuring such guest musicians as violinist Charlie Bisharat and bass virtuoso Michael Manring. Sometimes it's a bit too tasteful and ends up blending into the background, but then again, that can be a legitimate aim of this type of instrumental music. However, for the most part, the musicians maintain their focus, making Away With Words the equal of its forerunner.
By MICHAEL ASKOUNES, Published: August 1, 2000 
¶  Jim Matheos apparently decided that he needed a break from the metal-prog din of his day job as Fates Warning guitarist, so he went out and got himself a "new-agey" trio of musical buddies and recorded Away With Words , a severe departure from his work with Fates Warning that will invoke images of Michel Flatley's "Lord of the Dance" rather than headbanging prog-heads. The result is a mixed bag of "smooth jazz," complete with Tony Levin inspired bass riffs (the liner notes says the instrument used is indeed a bass, but I'd bet the house that there's a "stick" in use somewhere), and incredibly airy arrangements.
¶  In addition to Matheos on the guitar, the rest of the band consists of Michael Manning on the bass, Mark Zander playing the drums (barely), and most noticably Charlie Bisharat handling the violin duties. The violin is featured quite prominently on Away With Words , which makes it even more disappointing that the melodies composed for the instrument are so mundane and repetitive. The musical structure of the violin parts are more akin to the "ad nasuem" riffs of house music than the more improvisational stylings of jazz. There are also some ill-conceived musical turns taken here, such as a dixie-land "ho-down" titled "Tongue Tied" that made me personnaly cringe with embarrasment.
¶  Now that's not to say that all is bad with Away With Words - when Matheos' guitar playing is brought to the forefront of the pieces the CD fares much better. One of the stand-out tracks on the CD is a lullabye titled "Goodnight, Goodbye," which features some excellent acoustic work. However, the track on the CD that will definitely give listeners goosebumps is "Piscataquog" - an absolutely wonderful track that finishes out with two minutes of the most beautiful guitar arrangements I've heard in recent years. ¶  Matheos' style here is very reminiscient of Anthony Phillips' "Private Parts & Pieces" series - just a lush arrangement of 12-strings that is guaranteed to patch a line directly into your soul and totally de-stress your psyche.
¶  It's a shame that Matheos decided to make the sound he successfully engineered in "Piscataquog" the exception on the CD rather than the rule. Too often on Away With Words , the violin and muted bass simply steal the soul out of Matheos' compositions. ¶  Aside from a couple of stand-out cuts, Away With Words offers very little to the potential listener - but it will make one long for a Jim Matheos solo acoustic effort where he is unencumbered by other musicians. Fortaken: (http://www.allaboutjazz.com)  
Also: http://www.amazon.com/Away-With-Words-Jim-Matheos/dp/B00000K092
With Fates Warning:
Night on Bröcken (1984)
The Spectre Within (1985)
Awaken the Guardian (1986)
No Exit (1988) (Reissued 2007)
Perfect Symmetry (1989)
Parallels (1991)
Inside Out (1994)
Chasing Time (compilation) (1995)
A Pleasant Shade of Gray (1997)
Still Life (1998)
Disconnected (2000)
FWX (2004)
Notes: Fates Warning's eleventh album is planned to be released in 2013.
With OSI:
Office of Strategic Influence (2003)
Free (2006)
Blood (2009)
Fire Make Thunder (2012)
With Gordian Knot:
Emergent (2003)
With John Arch:
A Twist of Fate (2003)
With Arch/Matheos:
Sympathetic Resonance (2011)
With Memories of Machines:
Warm Winter (2011)
First Impressions (1993)
Away With Words (1999)
Guitar Rig & Signal Flow:
¶  A detailed gear diagram of Jim Matheos' 2012 Fates Warning guitar rig is well-documented: http://www.guitargeek.com/jim-matheos-fates-warning-2011-guitar-rig-and-gear-setup-diagram/

 © Photo credit: RJ Forster / Jim Matheos from Fates Warning at The Underworld in Camden, 2007-11-21.

Jim Matheos Away With Words (1999)


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