Review Date: November 2006
Al Garcia – Alternate Realities
Al Garcia plays like Salvador Dali paints. For that reason, it may be no coincidence that the artwork on the cover resembles the famous clocks in the desert. In this case, however, his guitars both figuratively and literally walk on water. Shallow pools of pleasure coupled with a sandbar are what make this possible. Alternate Realities is not only impressive, but it’s multi-dimensional. While this constitutes a fabulous world of melodious fusion, Al Garcia’s role in this includes compositions, arrangement, production, engineering, mixing, mastering, and let’s not forget, most of the playing. Among various guitars and keyboards, he also adds congas, bongos, udo drums, timbales, hand percussions and a random voice. He’s also helped by his brother Chris Garcia on four tracks (Track 2: Turning Point, Track 3: The Red Queen’s Race, Track 4: Secret Correspondences, and Track 8: A Place in the Sun). Aside from that and two small, but thoughtful, gifts from guests, everything else is Al Garcia.
Let’s peruse each perspective and angle, and dive into the details of its many facets, facts, and features:
Alternate Realities – Garcia wastes no time charging the flux capacitor and flipping the switch; thus, taking us to another region of the space-time continuum. Even more so than the magnetically absolute points in the North and South, this is poles apart from anything else on the market. If you look to the left and right speakers, you’ll hear cohesion in the star-speckled notes. To make this happen, he requires a plethora of instrumentation. Most of this is dominated by acoustic and electric guitars. As these mighty deities shoot by, synthesizers, fretted basses, and drums express their greetings and wave hi. With all this has to offer, it’s not wonder it’s the number one station before warping through the wormhole.
Turning Point – This has the essence of The Police’s “Wrapped around Your Finger”. When it clears the dark side of the moon, it unhurriedly heads into an expansive void. It escapes gravity’s grasp and heads beyond the outskirts of The Milky Way. It might move at a snail’s pace, but still it unwearyingly builds an insurmountable amount of distance.
The Red Queen’s Race – I knew I was on to something as this certainly constitutes Mars. Their leader is kind, benevolent, and wise. She irons with finesse and rules with the softest callous-free hands. As if he were Westley from The Princess Bride, the king bee does whatever she desires. His keyboards are programmed like the synthetic software you’d dock in on Tron. Not to mention, this kingdom comes with its protectors. The predatory sentinels are ominous as they sit outside the pearly gates. Safely situated on the inside, the rest of the rosy-cheeked inhabitants are absolutely jovial, friendly, and hospitable.
Secret Correspondence – Whether by cell phone or Morse code, he’ll get his point across. This time it starts with a classical recital. This concerto could have originated from Mozart, Bach, or maybe even Jordan Rudess. Eventually, the guitars join in to modulate and modernize the structure. This is a brilliant convergence of miscellaneous affiliations, patterns, and permutations. As different as each element is, they hardly ever clash. To an ungloved palm or the naked eye, the discrepancy is intangible. If you’re looking for a distinct mark, only here does Fred Ramirez play the piano and he does so on the intro.
Materia Prima – This one is exotic in the most accessible way. I find it’s fanatical in the same quirky mannerisms as a band named Jadis. While this employs no vocals at all, it communicates as effectively as a baby babbles. Even though there are no words in these expressions, you can simply tell from each cluck, chuckle, and coo that it is quite content and happy.
Three of a Kind – Jack Tripper is a cut-up, an expert in the pratfall, and a bona fide ladies man. He gets to date other women while living with an incredibly sexy pair. All he has to do is pretend he’s someone else. Dean Rohan arrives unannounced on the drums. Never does this neighbor turn this company into a crowd. Even when Jack’s brother Lee shows up, it doesn’t get too heavy.
The Pleasures of Progress – Like the maiden rocket or the first foot on the moon, this reflects upon innovation. I remember a time when I was a kid and asked to draw the future. Among other novelties, I included monorails, a recycling plant, and loads of solar-powered panels. To this day, it’s hard to believe, but the teacher gave me a failing grade. Likewise, the others in my class drew puppy dogs and pony tails and for that they got A’s. I have to wonder what this inane instructor was thinking. Garcia makes my childhood recollections alright with the insertion of this reassuring song. It’s so forward-thinking; it makes up for this counter-educational blunder. In its chapters, there are automatic processes, assembly lines, and robots marching. No need to be displeased when the technology can do all the labor.
A Place in the Sun – Surpass a place in the queue and ignore dried-up raisins in the sun. The reason why is that this is neither long-suffering nor is it dehydrated. It’s as invigorating as an aptly-timed siesta. I doubt you’ll deem it’s too close for comfort. The guitars carefully walk around while the piano gently climbs the steps. The drums, however, strut their stuff all over the place. Like a pair of broken-in tennies, by its very definition, it’s a snug fit.
Calculated Risk – I wouldn’t necessarily call this a cold equation. More than one approach leads to the right answer. Whether you say this is upbeat, standard fare, goes downtown, or enters into the fray of fusion, this song achieves a viable solution. While many artists exhaust their rations early on, he ends by overloading the quota set up for the keyboards. The drums are obviously supportive of this official directive. Furthermore, the guitar is also responsible for enforcing marshal law. Even so, some instrument is clearly guilty of copycatting a trombone. Its undercover approach is an efficient ploy when it comes to catching the suspect. While we’re placed in a momentary lapse of reason and a brief state of peril, there is no penalty or political fallout required in order to reprimand the issue. Before it’s over, it gets results without the slightest repercussion for its actions. Just so I can’t be accused of making no comparison, this track sounds uncannily in the vein of Frogg Café’s Creatures. Upon the arrival of the last croak, it ends at a wee bit over an hour.
Instead of the big bang, he fabricates this quantitative mass using the most obstinate of approaches. As if he were carefully stitching subatomic particles together, he meticulously fastens each atom to the sonic tapestry of his universe. From the initial planet to the one that’s been morphed into a dwarf, Garcia’s nine-planet galaxy is for a lack of a better word, the bomb.