There are musicians who, throughout their lives, seem to work in the shadows. Talented. Determined. Never in sight. Never in the role of leader. The perfect followers. Carlo Alomar is one of these precious people. His name is closely associated with David Bowie, for whom he has long and always worked profitably, playing not only the role of the rhythm guitarist, but he was also a producer, an organizer and a multi-instrumentalist. The right man in the right place, in the studio and on the stage, who could have easily aspired to a more prominent role, as a soloist or as a band leader, but for different reasons, he has always preferred to work far from the spotlight, far from the public’s appreciation, but always valued by colleagues. Don’t believe me? Watch Alomar while he “introduces” the Thin White Duke during his Spider Glass Tour, one of Bowie’s financial fiascos, an incredible fiasco for such a theatrical and innovative concert.
Alomar knows how to stand the scene very well and doesn’t stand in awe of the soloist Peter Frampton. A perfect career, as a great musician, started at 16 years old and still in progress and … just one solo record. This “Dream Generator”, released in 1987. A curious, interesting work that has partially stood the test of time.
Here Alomar plays practically everything, proving to be able to quietly abuse every possible technology available at those times. The sounds that come from Alomar’s guitars and MIDI resemble the chromatic cover of the record: they are a riot of keyboards and colors that reflect that era in seminal fashion, as were the tanned hairstyles and the exaggerated shoulder jackets.
It is not fusion. There are no jazz influences. “Dream Generator” belongs to a category that today, just thinking about it, would be impossible to conceive: experimental pop. “Dream Generator” is luxury pop music, elaborated, studied with an innovative approach.
At the same time it’s a sort of “business card” for Alomar, a demonstration of his skills in the recording studio and his skills as a producer. The tracks setting is not very heterogeneous.
His music looks like a fragmented mosaic, as if every single piece had been thought and elaborated at different times, in the spare time, in the pauses between one production and another, between one tour and another and then finally assembled and realized. Paradoxically, its peculiar characteristic, its 80’s pompous, optimistic and ringing MIDI sound is also its main limitation.
Today those sounds are outdated and a bit naive, children of an inordinate trust in technologies at the service of a pop sub culture that a few years later will be swept away by the grunge’s wave that will erase those keyboards like the details of the fashion of the Miami Vice TV series.
The limits of “Dream Generator” are precisely its idiomatic characteristics. Climbed by time and by the umpteenth reversal of cultural paradigms at the base of pop culture. Yet it would be worth re-evaluating, under the thin metallic paint of the 80s there are so many excellent ideas, that maybe Carlo Alomar will have reused in other productions, at the service of other great singers and musicians of those times. Just one solo record Mr. Alomar, such a pity. But perhaps this is right: ant workes are not noticed, they work hard to build the successes of others, knowing that without their support the talent of the artist they worked for could not be expressed in the way the story reminds us. Thanks again, Mr. Alomar.