Chris Fry – Composed
An Introduction To A Truly Remarkable Guitarist…
There is no doubt there are some truly remarkable guitars players in this world who are perhaps lesser known or even unknown in comparison to the many greats who have had the good fortune to be recognised and can make a very comfortable living from being such talented musicians as they very much do so.
My own personal favourite guitarist is Steve Howe of the progressive rock band Yes. Though Steve is truly a great guitarist and one I admire so much for his versatility and his ability not just on an acoustic guitar but also electric. He is perhaps a guy who many may of never heard of either in comparison to the more popular guitars players such as the likes of Eric Clapton. John Williams. Hank Marvin. Steve Vai and a thousand or more greats I have heard in this world.
Each guitarist has their own personal feel, technique and approach to the guitar, and each add something to their particular own genres and styles of music they are better known for playing too. Even though Steve Howe is my own personal favourite of all guitarists he is certainly not the greatest guitarist in the world and could take on all genres of music and styles and play them as well as others can even though he may have a go at times, and neither could the very few others I mentioned either. There is simply no such thing as the greatest guitarist in the world because each individual guitar player can bring that something special to the table that others simply cannot. This is what makes them so unique.
Chris Fry is no exception to all those greats, and in my opinion he deserves the same recognition that all those greats have, because he is without doubt an exceptional talented guitarist who cannot only play the guitar and execute it so well with his approach to the fine instrument, but can also compose such beautiful music to grace your ears with.
Chris is perhaps better known for his work with the band Magenta the neo prog rock band from Wales and has been the bands main guitarist since Rob Reed formed the band back in the year 2000 when he made a new incarnation from his previous old band Cyan. Magenta did however gain a little more recognition from their more successful 2nd album release back in 2004 entitled Seven.
Since then like many neo new prog rock bands that were formed back then and in the 90’s very much struggle to make a living from music and even though they are all highly talented musicians who make excellent music, they do not have the following that’s in that bigger mainstream world of more popular music, though their skills are way above that level of music that’s in the charts which is more or less aimed at of how good you look and not how well you can play at all.
These days record companies only seem to be interested in ten a penny singers and computer generated music and its vast world of sampled libraries that real musicians have sold their soul to the devil just so they can make and scrape a living out of it, and have contributed to it all. It’s something I will never personally support and despise musicians for doing such a thing in the first place. They have more or less sold the real musician down the river and put many out of a job. The music industry these days to put it frankly is a complete and utter farce, and that’s putting it mildly.
The Album Composed…
The album Composed by Chris Fry is his one and only solo album to date. It’s an album that took a good 3 years to make and he originally started work on it back in 2009 and worked on it here and there whenever he got the chance too in between his work with the band Magenta.
To be honest it’s quite hard to find out a lot of information about Chris because he very much the kind of person who very rarely gives an interview. One thing I perhaps do know that he is very much a family man and likes to keep his private life. Private. I also believe he was a school teacher and as to if he still is working as one I could not tell you. But I believe he was when he made this album. Though do not take my word on that. He also had his own personal website but that also no longer exists so this is a guy who quite clearly likes to stay away from the limelight.
Regarding his musical background he studied classical guitar at the London College of Music and holds a diploma of Licentiate from there. I also found it quite amusing in one of his very rare interviews when he was asked the question of who he would like to do a collaboration with, and he replied that he would love to play with Steve Hackett as he’s such a great player and he could sit quietly in a corner strumming a few chords and watch and learn something from him :)))))))))
There is no doubt in my mind Chris does not really need any lessons on the guitar at all, not even from the great Mr. Hackett himself and you can quite plainly hear it for yourself on this remarkable album he has made.
The album was released on MLEMusic back in 2012 and you can hear a sampler of it for yourself here:
The Album Review…
The album Composed by Chris Fry is one solid body of work that contains 10 superb instrumental tracks over a playing time of 42 minutes and 34 seconds. 9 of which are penned by Fry himself. The album itself is tagged with a classical genre, though it does take in various other styles such as folk/spanish/western/blues and even melancholic progressive rock.
Though the album mainly features Chris solemnly on classical, spanish, acoustic and the odd electric guitar on a couple of the tracks. He also plays a 12 string guitar and mandolin which he lent from his band mate Rob Reed. The album also features some programmed orchestration from Rob Reed and from his bother Dan Fry. To make it also that bit special he also as another fine musician playing with him on some of the tracks namely Emily Travis who plays violin and viola.
The album starts off with the shortest track on the album entitled Prelude. It’s a beauty of a piece that starts off with Spanish Flamenco style rhythm guitar with some lovely fluid lead lines adding beautifully to it’s wonderful melody from Chris. Emily’s violin adds beautifully to the build, and in some ways it’s perhaps the sort of western music Ennio Morricone would do with those cowboys films from the wild west many years ago. Chris is also a fan of Morricone’s fine music too so he may have been influenced to do this one. It’s a lovely start to the album.
Diablo 21. Follows next with more nylon string guitar goodness only it’s rhythm is at a more faster tempo this time. There is some beautiful chord progression and a lovely come down transition in the middle section. It also has some spontaneous passages with some superb lead lines played over the top of it by Chris. It once again features violin adding a lovely touch to it all from Emily and it really is a superb track.
Next comes the 3rd track Spain and the funny thing here is that though the previous 2 tracks may have that Spanish feel about them, this one starts off with a beautiful melody line that perhaps would of been more familiar and accustomed with the early line up of the band Genesis. The progression and changes put in this piece are a beauty. Chris is once again accompanied by Emily on the violin and the guitar work on this one is quite staggering to say the least. It’s certainly one of the contenders for the top track on the album, only on this album there is so damn many you could easily pick from for that spot.
Parachutes is up next and on this one Chris gets to blend his nylon guitar with steel stringed acoustic guitar and he is backed up with some superb orchestration from his band mate Rob Reed. There may of even been a contribution from his brother Dan but as the linear notes inside the CD do not indicate what tracks the other artists contributed to. I am afraid it’s a bit of a guessing game I am doing here.
It’s a very joyful piece and dances along beautifully with the flowing orchestration once again from Rob & Dan (I will say from now on) there may even be some of Emily’s violin and viola blended in too. Topped up with some gorgeous guitar work from Chris throughout. The orchestration works very well in the come down section in the middle of it too.
Track 5. Estvellita though I think there is certainly a spelling error here unless he has a Russian wife, and it should read Estrellita. Which is a Spanish word that translates in English to “Little Star” and can also mean “She Knows”. I do wish some of these artists would let me do of their linear notes for their albums. For a small fee of course :)))))) But anyway it’s a beautiful guitar solo played entirely by Chris himself.
Shadow Dancer is a track that perhaps has quite a dramatic feel about it. Once again Chris plays some lovely melody lines and there is no doubt this guy certainly knows how to compose and construct great music. This one would suit a great film and once again contains some flourishing guitar lines, fine melodies, lots of great chord progression and the odd trills here and there. All backed up with some superb orchestration from you know who.
The 7th track on the album is the only piece Chris never wrote though he has done his own arrangement of it. It’s entitled Verano Porteño and was written by an Argentinian Tango composer who goes by the name of Astor Piazzolla. This is another guitar solo played entirely by Chris beautifully done.
Down is the first track we get to hear Chris on the 12 string guitar and the mandolin he lent from Rob. It’s another track that’s played entirely by Chris and he also accompanies it with some most beautiful dobro slide guitar playing. In many ways it reminds me of Steve Howe and you will hear a lot of his influence on many of Magenta’s great albums. It sure as hell is one very tasty track and another contender for the top spot on the album.
Time and is another real beauty that features more beautiful played guitar from Chris and some fine strings along it’s fine journey.. It also has a lovely pace and feel about it as if time can wait and be enjoyed too, and this piece certainly can be enjoyed immensely with its lovely melody lines.
Secret Garden is the final track on the album and at 5 minutes and 48 seconds it’s also the longest track on the album. It’s real beauty of a track that says everything about what good music should be about. This most beautiful melancholic piece of work that utilises beautiful steel stringed acoustic, nylon and electric guitars to sheer brilliance and says everything about what good prog rock was like in the 70’s more so than any of the neo prog rock bands could ever do including the band he plays in himself Magenta.
The word beautification springs highly to mind and it’s music as good as this that brings joy to my ears so much and makes it that much more of pleasant world to live in. This one for me is my favourite track on the album. It’s so staggeringly stunning and superb way to end of on purely magnificent magical album.
There is no doubt in my mind that Chris Fry is one purely amazing guitarist whose capabilities on the instrument are way above many, and on another level in comparison to the many guitarists in this world too. The man deserves far more recognition than he has in this world of highly skilled talented musicians. The fact that he has even done such magnificent album of this calibre is truly stunning especially for a debut album.
Not even many of greatest guitarists in the world achieved this level of quality written material on their debut albums, and if you’re a guitarist yourself looking for a nice guitar based album, there is no way you could honestly go wrong with what Chris has produced here. To even think that this album sold hardly anything and people have never even heard of him is a simply unbelievable, and people must walk around with cloth ears is all I can say.
The album Composed by Chris Fry is one truly magnificent album. It’s very much a solid body of work with every track upon it being truly outstanding. The music he has composed and it’s fine melodies will not only just appeal to guitarists, simply because there is so much beauty here to behold. The added programmed orchestration and real violin and viola that adds to it including the fact that Chris used more than one guitar on most of the tracks, instead of just playing 10 guitar solos adds more of an appealing factor to it, to make it not just an album for guitarists ears to enjoy..
In the linear notes Chris even states that he would of wished he would have had the money to replace the programmed orchestration with a real orchestra which in all honesty makes me sick that a man with so much talent in his fingers cannot afford to do such a thing and yet there are more recognised artists being paid thousands and even millions for what they do and no way could they do what this guy has done either.
The fact that the music industry has washed it’s hands from such talented people also makes me sick. Just to think they can throw millions into promoting so many rubbish artists who quite frankly have not even got as much talent as what Chris has in their little finger really does my head in.
To finish off my conclusion here I am going to leave you with this outstanding official video that was made of the whole of my favourite track on the album Secret Garden so that you can see the man himself and get to hear the beautification of this purely awesome piece of music for yourself.
The album is without doubt is worth it’s weight in Gold. Go out and buy yourself a piece of happiness and bath in the beauty of this truly magnificent album.
01. Prelude. 1:27.
02. Diablo 21. 3:03.
03. Spain. 4:03.
04. Parachutes. 4:55.
05. Estvellita. 3:06.
06. Shadow Dancer. 5:23.
07. Verano Porteño. 5:15.
08. Down. 4:28.
09. Time. 5:06.
10. Secret Garden. 5:48.
Lee’s overall score rating 10/10.
The cheapest place to buy Composed by Chris Fry is from Rob Reed’s website here: http://www.mrsite.co.uk/usersitesv21/magentashopfront.com/wwwroot/page9.htm to which the CD is available in a cardboard gatefold sleeve for £8 and includes P+P. here in England. UK. I have noticed that there is no other price tag for European & International orders. But he usually charges £1 extra for European orders and £2 extra for International orders. Alternatively you can buy it at a slightly higher price on Amazon. Check for details in your country.