Singularity

Robby Krieger

When it comes to the Doors, you pretty much get your fill of Jim Morrison. For the surviving other members of the Doors, however, rising up in the shadow of their fabled lead singer hasn’t been easy. They’ve had the one-off reunions with guest singers and the two-thirds Doors of the 21st Century/Riders On The Storm conglomerations. None have amounted to the intensity or veneer of the original Doors. All the more strange when you consider the instrumental muscle of the band. Ray Manzarek went out on a limb with Carmina Burina; John Densmore wrote for the theater and became a bit actor.

And Robby Krieger — the guitarist who wrote “Light My Fire”? A handful of albums in the 70s and 80s did little to rumble the rafters. Cinematix, a fusion solo album from 2000 with several notable guests, was definitely a step in the right direction. Ten years later, Singularity is Krieger’s ultimate flight of fancy, an indulgence that caters to the guitarist’s every whim — flamenco, jazz, blues. This one is nowhere in the neighborhood of “Light My Fire.”

The title, derived from Krieger’s painting that doubles as the album cover, is described as a profound event such as the "big bang." To live up to such expectations, the guitarist reaches into places he must have only dreamt of before. For the intros of both “Russian Caravan" and "Event Horizon," he flails away on flamenco guitar to dramatic effect. “Russian Caravan" is a cinematic orgasm of sound, boiling in a pot of horns, keyboards and guitars. It would work wonders in a James Bond film. "Event Horizon" is more of a jazzy exploration, close in the spirit of Miles Davis with a little Frank Zappa thrown in for good measure.

In between these two episodic dimensions lies “Southern Cross,” an easy-going dollop featuring that slide guitar Morrison wanted in every Doors song. The dexterity of Krieger’s mastery of the fretboard finds an even more slippery slope on “Let It Slide,” which truly dignifies the Mojo praise. “Trane Running Late” is uptown jazz and an obvious nod to John Coltrane. Krieger seems comfortable in the idiom, dipping and shading the breaks between the horns. “Solar Wind” and “House Of Bees” align themselves to the more contemporary smooth jazz styles without burying Krieger’s lead in the mushy mire. Throughout, the guitar remains at the center of action without incident or mistaken identity.

Could there be a more suitable album for a musician of this caliber? Krieger has clearly challenged the conventionality of over-the-hill by tapping into a rich tapestry that encompasses his very essence and style. Indeed, the Doors played music that transcended the basic tenets of rock and roll with Manazarek’s monotonic organ and Krieger’s slinky guitar lines interweaving a newfound fabric of sonic possibilities. To see Krieger ascending to new heights 40 years later on Singularity is like breaking through…to another side.

~ Shawn Perry

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