(All Album Reviews by BrianG)
CCA is the Spanish stick player Guillermo Cides, with Americans Linda Cushma as the vocalist and on keyboards, and drummer Tim Alexander. They create a whole piece of art - music, lyrics, narrated stories, and cover art evoking their "Music Freak Show" - all the while overcoming the thousands of miles between them.
The first three tracks are very accessible. "Crazy Beautiful Life" is an optimistic, Flower Kings short song, where the stick player creates its cold metallic thunk wrapped in a warm ambient keyboard. Cushma's sung and chanted vocals and Cides' active stick playing propell the songs. The music tears into progressive rock territory known in Tony Levin's recent albums, and includes post rock sections similar to Oceansize and Lazuli.
Some songs characterize a more upbeat Dead Can Dance and include the prog-drone of David Sylvian. Contributors include Tony Levin, Trey Gunn, Steve Parish, Winston Napier, Nan Mercader and Uncle Jim but the instrumental solos are few or non-existent, leaving it to the melody and arrangements to create the "Freak Show" advertised on the cover.
"The Number Song " is a heavy drum workout worthy of Billy Cobham in his prime. "Woman on Horseback" is a remix of a Quodia song, using ambient textures behind Trey Gunn's narration. However, the song never gets to a discernable story and the repetition lets it drown in poetic overdose, almost becoming a parody of itself. The otherwise exciting track "Half The World" reminded me of early Peter Gabriel, gets caught in the same problem. Half the world this, half the world that - enough already! Only John Lennon can make that type of lyric even remotely bearable. “Amor De Bandoneón” has a powerful beginning, and Cushma makes good use of its tango roots. They get a little mired down at the end, but the Argentinian feeling remains.
The album is available as a download from several sites including CDBaby, iTunes, and their own website. But for the complete experience you need to purchase the physical album. Nunö Enriquez's album cover is a great piece of art, engendering the feel of an old circus poster with Siamese Twins and assorted circus freaks standing as caricatures of the contributing musicians. Gotolina the dragonfly tamer, Baron Fog, the Human Cannonball and Horacio Defrieri, the Sicilian Centipede - you get the idea.
The liner notes describe the novel way the album was made. "Linda and Tim from Arizona sent basic tracks of stick and drums to Guillermo based in Barcelona. He added stick guitars and keyboards. Linda went on to create the melodies, lyrics and chorus. The question was/is it possible for us to record a complete album in this way?" It turned out to be possible, and resulted in an exciting album full of talent but disjointed in feeling. The emotional impact of musicians playing together cannot be emailed. So if the drummer felt moved to put more power into a piece, that did not mean that the other musicians in the piece were motivated the same way. This is especially true in Not Different but Not The Same. But for all these minor foibles, CCA succeeds in creating a well-balanced album appealing to many different tastes.