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Joel Hoekstra



The Moon Is Falling

Uploaded to Aural Innovations: September 2003

Joel Hoekstra is back and his band once again includes the winning rhythm section of Virgil Donati on drums and Ric Fierabracci on bass, and we also have Chris Grove on keyboards. The band come roaring out of the starting gate with the title track, which is a Country-Funk-Metal blend with a fusiony Eddie Van Halen shred solo that announces loudly and proudly that this follow-up to Hoekstra's Undefined CD from 2000 is going to be another monstrous and lusciously varied slab of instrumental guitar heaven.

Among the highlights is "Fire Island", which begins as an easy-paced jazz tune, but includes moments of roadburning rock and mind blowing guitar. Hoekstra excels at incorporating an array of styles and themes into individual tracks in a way that flows seamlessly and comes off like a multi-themed progressive rock suite... all compacted within a 3-4 minute construction. Only 2 of the CD's 14 tracks break the 5 minute mark. Yet Hoekstra manages to make highly sophisticated and totally kick ass statements within a framework that, for him, is clearly not a limitation. "9/11"" is a frantic and quirky rocker that includes calmer moments of jazz fusion and much more. And it's interesting that a song called "9/11" would be followed by one with samples of Michael Rennie's statement to the world in The Day The Earth Stood Still for mankind to abandon his war-like ways and join the advanced races' "system that works". Food for thought. And it's a killer tune with the usual Hoekstra variety and includes moments of pounding King Crimson styled power. "The Great Og" is a crunchy rocker with a metallic edge, fiery shred guitar and some cool little spacey bits. "Antonia" and "Confessions" are among the more sedate songs on the CD, and appearing back-to-back in the playlist serve as peaceful breathers in the midst of the storm. "Maybe Just At Parties" is an excellent funky jazz-in-space tune I enjoyed. At nearly 7 minutes "Kaleidoscope" is the longest track of the set and is a roller coaster ride of progressive rock, jazz fusion and metal. And the closing track, the aptly titled "Lull", is an acoustic guitar piece given a freaky edge by barely audible UFO electronics swirling around in the background.

In summary, I give this CD a big thumbs up to guitar fans of all stripes, and the prog rock crowd will find much to enjoy too. Hoekstra is full of flash, but keeps the discerning listener interested and at full attention throughout the album with his skillful and imaginative blend of styles and turn-on-a-dime thematic twists and turns. Hot shit. Check it out.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations

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