KYLE HONEA – Distant Island Universe

KYLE HONEA - Distant Island Universe


Release date: January 30, 2006

User Review
8/10 (1 vote)

Bassist Kyle Honea struts his remarkable chops on his latest effort, Distant Island Universe, which is an independent release by Kyle himself that demos six original Progressive Rock instrumentals. The disc features Kyle on electric bass, guitar, keyboards, and drum programming, plus guitarist Francesco Fareri on two cuts. While the songs are rough around the edges in terms of performance and production quality, both Kyle and Francesco showcase noteworthy technical ability and musical talent.

Arguably, the most memorable songs on the album are “The Cyclops Star” and “Charvelous,” those two being of the most melodic import. “The Cyclops Star” has a marriage made in heaven between the gritty, lead melody of the bass and the airy, chordal backdrop of the keyboard synth. “Charvelous,” despite suffering overall in signal-to-noise ratio, has some of the charisma of a Joe Satriani or Jason Becker, thanks to Kyle’s uninhibited guitar soloing. He might be a little too loose on guitar, but his “let it loose” playing personality compensates for any floundering along the way.

Clearly a lead-minded player on bass, Kyle employs a two-handed tapping technique that produces flurries of notes in the vein of Billy Sheehan (Vai, Niacin). His bass tone is nice and thick with a tight bottom end, and his articulation and rhythmic feel generally give his playing a musicality that is often deficient in players who flaunt a fast and flashy style.

Francesco is obviously a determined player — determined on playing with virtuosic speed and dexterity. However fast he may be able to produce notes, he pushes the envelope of speed at the expense of soul. On the two tracks that feature Francesco on guitar, he does not play with the precision or authority of a Tony Macalpine or Greg Howe, for instance. However, if he can build some headroom into his playing to allow for a more polished execution, make less of a clinical display of his need for speed, and develop some phrasing, his technique will serve him better as a means to a more artistic end.

In fact, both the guitar and bass parts sometimes indulge in dry arpeggio patterns and sequenced lines that give sections of the music a mechanical, emotionless feel. The compositions would benefit if those technical staples were utilized more abstractly, among other ingredients blended together in the crafting of expressive, stylized passages.

In the never-ending quest for great tone, there is the tendency of guitarists also striving for technical virtuosity to not give priority to the sound that is most pleasing to the ear and instead settle for one that facilitates the greatest ease in executing lightning-fast, sweep-picked runs with even output. Some “shred” masters ultimately find a sound that apparently achieves both goals (e.g., Yngwie Malmsteen, Greg Howe, Jeff Loomis). But, more commonly, there is a sacrifice, which could account for Francesco’s inferior tone on this release. By modern standards in signal processing and recording (including home studios), his tone falls short in terms of warmth and dynamics, sounding rather thin and excessively compressed. Ironically, Kyle’s guitar sound on “Charvelous” is superior in those regards, despite the overall noise problem. Of course, limited budget and production facilities contribute to the challenges.

Accepting the production flaws on this demo-quality release, Technical and Progressive Rock fans, and especially musicians, who are into advanced playing techniques and want to keep abreast of the up-and-comers, should give Kyle Honea’s Distant Island Universe a listen. Kyle and Francesco display great potential to become bright stars and claim their place in the universe of contemporary instrumental music.


  • Jason Sagall

    Jason was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He was born in Illinois and currently reside in California, USA, where he works in the field of Information Technology, and is a freelance web consultant His favorite Rock and Metal subgenres include Classic, Progressive, and Power. He is a guitar fanatic and listen to a lot of Instrumental Rock and Fusion. Jason has been playing guitar as a hobby for some 25 years.  

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