CARL WEINGARTEN
The Simian River Collection 1980 - 2020
(Multiphase Records)

 

A pioneering guitarist and composer from the progressive rock world of the early 1980’s, Carl Weingarten is celebrated with the 2023 release of The Simian River Collection 1980-2020. A 3-CD set, spanning 48 tracks that clocks in at over three hours, The Simian River Collection is a timely testament to the progressive instrumental music that Carl Weingarten set upon the ears of adventurous music fans lucky enough to catch on to his unique guitar-centric approach 40 years ago.

Compact disc one, subtitled All Things Return, travels way back to the 1980s and the disc starts off with the mesmerizing, guitar-based, New Age title track from his 1988 album Laughing At Paradise. From there, the sound goes high-tech, moving on to the title track from Carl’s 1992 album Pandora’s Garage, released on CD by Kit Watkins’ Linden Music label. Interestingly, “Pandora’s Garage”, heard here for the first time, is actually an unreleased cut from the Pandora’s Garage album and, featuring some scintillating guitars and synths, what a powerhouse track it is.

A range of tracks from both of those albums are also featured on CD1. Interestingly, Pandora’s Garage features key contributions on both guitars and synths from both Walter Whitney and David Udell, two musicians that were and also are members of Delay Tactics, the band that released Elements Of Surprise, the long awaited Delay Tactics comeback album in 2022.

Another early Carl Weingarten album classic from 1985, Living In The Distant Present displays Carl’s fascination with minimalist progressive rock in the spirit of Robert Fripp’s “Frippertronic” style. The track “Swim” is a good example of Carl’s multi-faceted combination of slide guitar, synths, guitar loops and multiple delays. First released on cassette in 1985 and reissued in 2018 on the Denmark-based Azure Vista label, Living In The Distant Present is a mostly solo outing that features engineering from Carl’s bandmate in Delay Tactics, Walter Whitney.

Another cool thing about The Simian River Collection 1980-2020 is that the 3CD set features a number of unreleased rarities, including an intriguing acoustic / electric studio track from the 1980’s on CD1 called “Lost Guitars”, an unearthed gem that predates Carl’s 2020 album Ember Days, an album also featured with a track on disc 3 of The Simian River Collection 1980-2020. CD 1 closes out with a 1987 live track called “The Slo-Guitar”, recorded all those years ago on the esteemed Boston-based radio station WZBC-FM.

Interestingly, CD2 on The Simian River Collection 1980-2020, subtitled Hand In The Sand, was actually released on CD by Carl, way back in 2004. Spanning Carl’s music from 1990 to 2004, Hand In The Sand, the original CD, is out of print so its inclusion as CD2 on The Simian River Collection 1980-2020 makes it a suitable part of this multi-disc set.

With 16 tracks, the 67-minute Hand In The Sand is even more diverse than CD1 All Things Return, encompassing a sampling of various tracks from classic Weingarten albums, including Local Journeys (2005), an album that featured Carl in the studio with bass ace Michael Manring, with mixing from former Guitar Player magazine editor Barry Cleveland. Recorded between 1993-1994, Redwood Melodies, a collection pre-dating some of Carl’s more modern styles of the 2020’s, is also brought into focus on CD2 Hand In The Sand with several tracks.

Musicians assisting Carl on these mid 1990’s tracks, as well as throughout the entire 3-CD set include a large cast with numerous supporting artists, including recording legends Michael Manring (bass), Joe Venegoni (percussion), Robert Powell (pedal steel guitar) Ulrich Schnauss (synths) and many others credited in the CD packaging.

Redwood Melodies remains a fine showcase for Carl’s skills on dobro, slide guitar, classical guitar and assorted ‘EFX’. Highlights include the title track to Local Journeys as well as tracks from Carl’s 2002 album escapesilence, his 2001 album Blue Faith, Slide Of Hand (1991) and 1995’s The Acoustic Shadow.

Both CD1 and CD2 on The Simian River Collection offer fascinating revelations of Carl’s early works, yet CD3, drawing on the album title and simply titled The Simian River, takes a fresh look at Carl’s most recent music, including tracks taken from This Is Where I Found You (2019), Life Under Stars (2014), An Endless Premonition (2016), Panomorphia (2012) and Ember Days (2020).

Also on CD2 are several unreleased rarities, including the up-tempo Irish-flavored “Dublin”, the short but beguiling 2 minute “Ei Saa Mitte Vaiki Olla”, featuring Carl backed by an Estonian choir, a remix of “The River King” and a Leo Kottke influenced acoustic track called “Bunk Beds Reprise”.

For a succinct yet well thought-out 36-track career-spanning retrospective, The Simian River Collection 1980-2020 contains a sweeping assortment of classic Carl Weingarten tracks that clearly presents an artist ahead of his time yet, an artist that is also very much of and in the times we have lived in for the past 43 years.

Whether you are a fan of Carl’s recent music, including his brilliant 2022 album Stop Me Try as well as the 2023 comeback album with his early 1980s band Delay Tactics, (albums waiting to appear on a future retrospective perhaps?), there’s something for every music fan on The Simian River Collection 1980-2020.

Lucky listeners that tuned into Carl Weingarten’s early music in the early 1980s, as well as newer fans that enjoyed his recent output in the past few years, will be equally amazed at the sound and scope of The Simian River Collection 1980-2020. The complete sonic synopsis of a truly original American guitarist and composer, The Simian River Collection 1980-2020 stands out as the absolute best-of Carl Weingarten.

 



 

 
   
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