Monday, February 24, 2014

Eclectic Blah

I've anticipated this release for months. Although you might think that fusion is really not my thing, my listening tastes for many years have included such wonderful things as Frank Zappa, Robin Trower, and Jan Hammer. Where the intersection of jazz and rock fuse is a very interesting place, as is easily typified by progressive rock. So when I was asked to review the eponymous Eclectic Blah, I was rather excited to be in on it. I found a really nice collection of songs, with solid performances both impressive and eclectic: just the way I like it.

From the opening notes of Spheres, we are informed of what the music will entail. Synths set the mood, with pulsing bass building to the full orchestration as the guitar glistens in, and the subtle but driving percussion fills out a chilly opening track.

Moving on to Tiny Bugs, again synthy goodness brings us in, a pattern on many of the tracks. A soft interplay between parts with the guitars and drums, meshing smoothly.

A nice saxophone whispers to us in In Deep Water, which gives us a sumptuous intro, followed by another solid groove, a toe tapper for sure.

The organ intro in Dreams of Hesse is reverent, quietly powerful as the splash of cymbal announces an equally reverent progression, with the bass holding down a slow driving beat for the guitar's plaintive soloing.

Rich tones meet us in The Porcupine, moving from the walking bass to the strings to the guitars, and showing a heated conversation of instruments. It drives hard to the end, sizzling to a stop.

Take a deep swig of Harvey Wallbanger, which has a style reminiscent of Andy Summers's solo work, a solid jam.

Lazer seems to start out deceptively simple, again building to intensity. Taking it's time, synths are almost a special effect in a jazzy montage that evokes science fiction. As with much of the album, It would make an excellent soundtrack to a Cowboy Bebop episode.

Solid State is big and dangerous. From the pulsing synth in the beginning to the build in the end I'm brought mental images of action flicks. I really, really liked this cut.

Driving Home Slowly must refer to the autobahn, and slowly must be a relative term, as I see cars at night slipping along at a pace through the blackness and illuminated roadway. It winds down the album slowly, bringing us home safely.

Considering the tightness of them, it's good to remember that these pieces are live performances. Improvisation abounds and these exceptionally talented musicians show their stuff, but you might think you were listening to a studio album. The production is impressive as well. Clearly engineered cleverly, they provide a great showcase. Surely a tribute to producer Rainer Straschill's attention to detail and professionalism. A very worthwhile effort indeed.