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Monday, May 25, 2009

Automatic Fine Tuning, England

A.F.T. - Automatic Fine Tuning. 1976 Charisma

Found this by chance at a record store in the DFW area in 1985. It's still a personal favorite. 4 long instrumental tracks with twin guitar. Two part "The Great Panjandrum Wheel" is the featured piece on the album.

I wrote a full review on UMR, but I'll put it here to make it easy.

Primary instrumentation: Dual guitars, bass, drums

Instrumental, except 4)

Tracks (* - highlights):
*1. The Great Panjandrum Wheel (Part One) -- in 4 parts
2. Gladioli
*3. The Great Panjandrum Wheel (Part Two) -- in 5 parts
4. Queen of the Night

It's not easy to maintain an interesting album with dual electric (no acoustic) guitars carrying the load throughout the entire recording, but that's exactly what A.F.T. manages to do. The rhythm section is no slouch, but their primary purpose is to keep the compositions moving along, rather than act as a feature. So no boring drum solos, or acrobatic meter sections are highlighted. Just dual guitars, with occasional solos. Fortunately guitarist's MacDonnell and Cross are up to the task, and provide the listener with many exciting sections, and add plenty of tonal changes to keep it interesting. The knee-jerk reaction is to compare AFT to other dual guitar acts from the UK such as Wishbone Ash and Man, but that isn't really the case at all. In fact, you have to fast forward another decade, and look towards the California group Djam Karet for any kind of relative comparison. While the feature pieces are the lengthy 1) and 3) that opens each side, the shorter track 2) is similar, and no less exciting. Track 4) sees the band try their hand at a more straightforward hard rock format, with vocals. And while pleasant, the 3+ minute track comes across as a bit of a throwaway. Otherwise a super album.

Priority: 1

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