The knock against Acoustic Alchemy has always been that it’s background music, but the band has always created music that’s atmospheric in the best sense of the word. Granted, it’s not for guitarists who are looking for a chop fest. Greg Carmichael on nylon-string acoustic and Miles Gilderdale on steel-string acoustic and electric guitar play what the songs need. Usually that means hummable and memorable melodies that lay on top of the bed put down by the rhythm section of Fred White on piano, Julian Crampton on bass, and Greg Grainger on drums.
It can be hypnotic at times. “World Stage” has a ﬁnger-picked repeating acoustic ﬁgure and a muted electric guitar that immediately draw you in. Just when you start to get lost in the feel, Gilderdale plays a soaring electric solo to break the trance. Some bluesy acoustic kicks off “One For Shorty” before a gospel feel dominates, as some fat organ and Gilderdale join in to bring it all the way to church. “The Ebor Sound System” has an island feel with some Talk Box licks that bring Steely Dan’s “Haitian Divorce” to mind. The inﬂuence of Jobim is prevalent on “Sand On Her Toes,” with interesting chord changes and an elegant acoustic solo, and jazz makes an appearance on “Right Place – Wrong Time.”
Acoustic Alchemy has been making records for about 25 years, and as on previous releases, Roseland’s memorable songs and ﬁne playing touch on several styles. Carmichael and Gilderdale are obviously ﬁne players more interested in the song than in showing off.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Jan. ’12 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.