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Light In The Dark by Chris Stassinopoulos & Friends

He’s performed with Vangelis and is considered an integral cog in the wheel of the Greek progressive-rock and avant-garde scenes. Here, drummer, keyboardist Chris Stassinopoulos leads alternating ensembles via his sturdy and sometimes weighty backbeats along with his keyboard overlays. The artist performs with fellow countrymen, and notable prog/jazz warriors such as saxophonist Alex Foster (Jaco Pastorius), bassist Hugh Hopper (Soft Machine) and violinist David Cross (King Crimson).

The sum of the parts signifies a rather monolithic game-plan. On the opener titled "Ancient Civilization," Stassinopoulos drives home a thrusting rock pulse, augmented by his silvery and overly metallic keyboard sounds as Cross sojourns on a lengthy solo via his revved up and somewhat gut-wrenching e-violin phrasings. Then with "Trip Through The Universal Light," former Miles Davis band member and longtime session guitarist Barry Finnerty generates some high-heat via his fluent single note riffs. Yet the preponderance of this outing rings more like an impromptu jam session, where the various song-forms lack distinctive or for that matter, memorable themes.

The composition titled "Flight of the Condor," was recorded live at an Athens club and features hearty solos by Cross and by keyboardist Alekos Karakandas, although the muddy sound lessens some of the implied impact. Otherwise, the standout piece "Fa Blues (Space Hymn) is a drums-guitar duet, also recorded at a club in Athens and highlighted by Stelios Frederikos’ blistering rock guitar lines and the leader’s power-drumming.

No doubt, the talent quotient would seem a few notches above other ensembles of this ilk. But with the abundance of prog-rock albums and downloads flooding the market, this outing fails to impart any substantial listening benefits. And while it is a jam-based program, the uninspiring material and Stassinopoulos’ dated keyboard stylizations might stand as two predominant factors that largely, sink this effort.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Chris Stassinopoulos & Friends
  • CD Title: Light In The Dark
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Christass Records
  • Rating: Two Stars
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