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Album Review: Kirk Windstein – Dream in Motion

At first, the idea of sludge veteran Kirk Windstein releasing a solo album seems redundant. After all, the man essentially *is* Crowbar, and his guitar work is immediately distinctive on Down and Kingdom of Sorrow. However, his works have always been more structured compared to his peers, and there’s a certain melodicism beneath the hardcore veneer. At the very least, this is an opportunity for Windstein to explore what could only be hinted at on his other projects.

Dream in Motion isn’t exactly a Crowbar ballads compilation, but such a tag may give you an idea of what to expect. The genre is somewhat tricky to pinpoint, sitting somewhere between mellow doom and psych-rock with an overall mood that is somber yet uplifting. The guitar work is very gentle, making the most of wafting Gilmour-isms with the very occasional crunch, and the rhythm section is scaled back though the drum patterns manage to stay fairly busy. The vocals follow suit, carrying a scratchy restraint that never loses its manly character despite the filters and layering at work.

This setup, in combination with a focus on slower tempos, can make the songwriting seem somewhat repetitive, but there’s enough variation to go around. Tracks like “Hollow Dying Man” and “Enemy in Disguise” have almost gothic buildups that reach even greater emotional swells with “Necropolis” and “Ugly Truth.” Elsewhere, the riff sets on the title track and “Toxic” could’ve very well been used for proper Crowbar songs with some extra volume behind them, and “The Healing” makes for a haunting instrumental.

Of course, the closing cover of Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung” will likely be what draws the most attention. It’s executed fairly well, successfully capturing the original’s wintery atmosphere and downtrodden attitude, though the rigid instrumentation and vocals miss out on the cheekiness that came with it. The tempo shifts also feel a little jarring when coming off the rest of the album’s more straightforward structures. It does the original justice, but things would be just as solid without it.

Many musicians’ solo albums amount to nothing more than watered-down takes on their main band’s formulas; Dream in Motion pushes the nuances in Kirk Windstein’s songwriting methods to the forefront. It is crafted with his usual workman energy and blunt components, but its introspection is purposeful and endearing. It’s music for a mellow playlist that could work just as well coming down from a brutal onslaught. If Crowbar is the sound of a man driving his fists into a wall, then Dream in Motion is where that man allows himself to collapse and soak in his sorrow. Strong men also cry.

Highlights:
“Dream in Motion”
“Hollow Dying Man”
“Enemy in Disguise”
“The Healing”
“Necropolis”

Editor Grade

A-

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