Eddie Lascu 29-Aug-2007 Abstract Expression

Dave Kulju’s story is as simple as it gets. Born in 1970, he started playing guitar at the age of 12, after his mom urged him to take some lessons. His first influences were Rush, Jimi Hendrix, The Eagles, Yes, Led Zeppelin and The Who. After high school he enrolled to attend college at University of North Carolina in Asheville. There he studied under a tremendously talented pool of professors, including the late Dr. Robert Moog. He also attendee clinics of virtually every major artist coming through town, such as Chick Corea, Victor Wooten and Gary Burton (please note the diversity of instruments that caught Dave’s interest).

With help from some proggy fellow colleagues, his horizon expands to include the likes of Genesis, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Mike Oldfield and Frank Zappa.

After graduation, Dave moves back to New Hampshire were he forms the band Electrum with whom two albums were released: “Frames of Mind” and “Standard Deviation”. Both have received very positive reviews in the Progressive Rock community.

It was during the recording phase of “Standard Deviation” in 2001 that Dave had some spare time and wrote and recorded “Pleiades”, the first song that appears on this record.

After releasing “Standard Deviation” (at the end of 2002), Electrum goes into a prolonged hiatus. Dave continued to write music so that by 2004 he realizes he was very close to release a solo album. After some upgrades done to his home studio meant to allow the recording of live drums, on June 28th, 2005 began a 22-month long process to record, mix and master “Abstract Expression”. Dave had the help of some guest musicians, most notable being drummers Frank Basile and Bryan Powers, violinist Ian Cameron, guitarist Joel Mahathy and organist Doung Upton. Dave Kulju did the rest, and that included playing the electric, acoustic and bass guitars, drum kit and keyboards.

The music is entirely instrumental, without a concept behind the tracks. In fact the artist invites us not to search any meaning of the music in the title of the songs, but rather to hear them as an argument of the concept that music is inherently an abstract form of art.

While guitar is the main form of expression, every piano and keyboard intervention sounds very inspiring. Interestingly enough, Dave doesn’t list Joe Satriani as an influence although I can’t help but observe some similarities between the styles of the two. Mind you, this is not pyrotechnics-filled, a-gazillion-notes-a-second type of music. But just like Satriani, I think Kulju has an evident ability to come up with some great, melodic riffs that will make you hum along by the third time you will play the album. All in all, a very enjoyable album that came from that little place called the soul of the artist.

Links for further information