New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Les Fradkin is the Producer and Composer / Innovator on the Starr Labs Ztar and a virtuoso MIDI Guitarist. His brand new futuristic playing techniques realize Progressive Neo-Classical Rock from the Pioneer of MIDI Guitar.
"Escape From Earth" features Les Fradkin blending his own compositions with those of Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, Beethoven and Pachelbel with his futuristic Starr Labs Ztar to realize a new sound for Progressive Rock. This exciting new release includes Les' Bongo Boy Single "Reflections Of Love" as well as his hit "Canon In D". Les' unique approach with the Starr Labs Ztar Midi Guitar has seen release with "Baroque Rocks", "One Link Between Them", "Hyper Midi Guitar", "Ticket To A Remix Universe" (an album of electronic Beatles
Covers) and such Singles as "Lift Off", "Bach Rocks", "Reflections Of Love" and "Canon In D". Les has also enjoyed various iTunes and Amazon Chart hits including "Canon In D"(#9 in Japan and #13 in the USA), "Baroque Rocks", "Lift Off", "Everything Is Wrong"" and others.
All tracks Produced by Les Fradkin and Loretta Pieper Fradkin.
©℗ 2018 RRO Entertainment Under License to Bongo Boy Records
"Wheth¬er he plays more in the class¬ical or the electronic gen¬res, Frad¬kin makes a
strong case for him¬self as the Yngwie Malmsteen of MIDI." - Skope Magazine
Les Fradkin - Escape from Earth | Album Review by The Grouch
The other day Bongo Boy Records gave me a call and said that an artist I really like and have a lot of respect for is coming out with a new album. Les Fradkin is a very talented musician who is abso-lutely not afraid to do things differently. Firstly, he played George
Harrison in the Beatles
show on Broadway (The fact that I even find myself impressed by Broadway is a major accomplishment, I am just not a Show Tune kind of guy.) Secondly, a couple of years ago Les laid down some "New Age
" tracks that I found I really enjoyed. It was similar to the experience I had when Hank III turned me on to Country. What I am trying to say is that Les has expanded my mind. For that alone I must say thank you.
Thus, when Bongo Boy said Les had a new album I naturally wanted to hear it. Then they told me it features an instrument called a Ztar. The very next thing that was said, even before I could ask a question was "No, not a Sitar, a Ztar" I have to admit I did breath a sigh of relief as I quickly Googled a Ztar. I really like a lot of the Beatles
music, but personally, I was so happy when George
finally put that thing away and went back to guitar. For those who do not know the Ztar is a MIDI controller device. It looks like a guitar, but is 100% MIDI. Les is one very innovative guy. Les Fradkin plays the Starr Labs Ztar, and did all of the orchestrations, Guitars, Synthesizers, Harpsichord, Organ, Mellotron, Bass, Percussion. Les I dig you and hate you at the same time (just kidding man, but I am envious of your talent).
Track 1 - Presto Changeo (2:38) - WOW, what starts out like a typical new age type synth
session quickly turns into a shred fest. I have to keep telling myself that is not a wicked lead guitar I hear. Honestly I have not been this impressed since I saw Aerosmith
open up with Beethoven about 30 years ago and Joe Perry
just nailed the runs.
Track 2 - Reflections Of Love (3:11 - Les gets funky with some beats on this track. I dig the haunting background vocals. Then I find myself enjoyably confused. There is a thunder-like sound in the back-ground and an intense beat going on. The piano effect is very nice, but there is some sound that brings back memories of Zamfir, Master of the Pan Flute. The only thing is that while Zamfir came off as goofy and, from what I remember of the commercials, decidedly uncool the music Les is making works very well. I would be lying if I said I knew exactly what instrument was being emulated, but I know that the notes he is playing sound good. Les, you have expanded my mind again.
Track 3 - Canon In D (Single Version) (2:57) - Welcome to the world of Classical Rock. No, I don't mean Classic Rock. This song has the melody and orchestration of something I could imagine hearing in an old cathedral, albeit with an upscale tempo and some very strong percussion.
Track 4 - Baroque and Roll (2:17) - What a cool title for a song! I find myself really enjoying the intro-duction. Les is in a groove even like the unusual keyboard sounding mini-solo. In all honesty I think this song would be a very strong pop crossover hit if someone such as the late great George
Michael were singing some vocals. (Okay, Okay I know Wham!
was a silly little boy band, but if you really stop to listen Michael had a great voice and that type of voice would work very well with this song.)
Track 5 - Winter (From Vivaldi- The Four Seasons) (3:46) -This track sounds like winter. Having lived in central Sweden for many years I can almost feel the cold approaching as the track begins. The deeper into the track we go the colder it gets. Anyone who has ever had to wait outside in minus 30 degree weather will identify with the almost mockingly happy sounds and runs coming from Les' instrument. It is as if the cold wind and snow are playing with you, but they know you hate it. Les captured that mood very well.
Track 6 - Bach Rocks (Album Version) (5:24) - Man, I dig this! I have the feeling that if he were alive today Bach would be shredding on a Les Paul with a huge Marshall stack behind him. Granted, I don't hear any guitar emulation in this track, but what I do hear is some wickedly played music with a new percussion beat underneath and a massively funky bass line. Then at the very end a guitar sound ever so briefly pops out and I have to smile. Les, you are a musical god! This song is great, but I would give anything to see metal band, Avenged Sevenfold
comes to mind, play this track.
Track 7 - The Myth Of El Cid (3:04) Les is cranking up another track from Vivaldi. I think Les must be all about emotion. What can I say about this track? A magnitude 10 earthquake of sound greets the lis-tener at the onset. Once your ears get used to the volume, you can tell that the song is both breathtak-ingly beautiful and beautifully played. This album is turning into one of the best albums I own. As an old Punk Rock guy, I am shocked myself to write such a thing, but it is 100% true. These songs rock - blisteringly hard!
Track 8 - Handel Rocks (Single Version) (2:55) - When I think of Handel, I always think of Christmas. (Motown was more common in my house than Classical music.) What I hear in this song is nothing less than a massive jam. Yes, I am sure many people prefer a version played by a full orchestra, but per-sonally I like electricity and I like my music LOUD. Well done!
Track 9 - Vivaldi Rides Again (2:12) - Good God, the beginning of this track sounds like a Country jam. If you were to replace the keyboard sound with a banjo you would have a massive Billy Jam. I love it! The music is just so complicated on top, but the bottom is relatively straight forward which, in my mind, creates a wonderful synthesis of the worlds of both classical and rock music.
Track 10 - Summer (From Vivaldi The Four Seasons) (2:53) - WOW, I am speechless. All I can think is this sounds like the inspiration for Edward Van Halen's song Eruption. Les, this track would get even the metal kids to pump their fists in the air and bang their heads. I think I need to check out some more Vivaldi.
Track 11 - Ode To Joy (2:55) - Wow, a composition I am actually familiar with. I like this version much better than the original. This is exactly how I have always thought this tune should be played - on a LOUD electric guitar. Okay Okay, it is an emulated guitar and there are strings in the background, but it sounds like a real guitar and the strings have a cool effect. I really dig the beat the percussion is laying down. Almost
like a little Beethoven swing and that HEAVY ripping guitar sound at the end just screams cool!
Track 12 - Brandenburg No. 3 (7:22) - I am truly impressed. This sounds like a full on
orchestra. Really, I strongly urge any Classical enthusiasts to give a listen to this track in
particular. Warning though after the first minute and twenty-six seconds Les lets loose and gets a bit funky. Personally, I really enjoy the percussion. The more I listen the more I groove to what he is do-ing. My advice would be if you are a Classical enthusiast come with an open mind. The bass line is something I could see Zeppelin's John Paul Jones doing. This track starts off in a very classical mode, then gradually becomes more and more modern, for lack of a better word. Come listen and get ready for some mind expansion.
Track 13 - Brandenburg No. 5 (10:51) - This track has an almost pop feel at the beginning. The music is cheery and could make even a grouch feel happy. I am not sure exactly why, but this track gives me a Sgt. Pepper's feeling albeit without John Lennon
or Paul McCartney
going on some rambling rant filled with cultural references I don't understand. (How many holes does it take to fill the Albert Hall?) The bottom line is this is a very long, masterfully played piece. The runs towards the end of the piece are simply mind blowing.
Track 14 - Escape From Earth (Finale) (4:03) - The last track is the finale and right from the beginning Les comes out swinging. The interaction between the keys and the drums are brilliant. Then just to show he can, Les turns his MIDI device into a jamming electric guitar and proceeds to give every metal kid a run for their money. The amazing thing is that he does with while maintaining the rhythm and flow of the song, This song is nothing less than a massive jam in which a stellar player throws down the gauntlet to EVERYONE else.
So what is the bottom line? The bottom line is this: I give Les Fradkin an extremely rare six scowls out of a possible five on the Grouch scale. Honestly, this is one of the best albums I have ever heard. I was told that Les has a gig opening up for a Black
Sabbath tribute band. If I were in that band I would be very nervous indeed. In all sincerity, this album is Grammy material. Les, you have once again expanded my mind.
The Grouch | in the Rockies
Album available at https://bongoboyrecords.com/lesfradkin/