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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Seven that Spells - Future Retro Spasm [Beta-lactam Ring - 2010]

This  band mixes a variety of musical genres into a compelling, satisfying  and very well crafted sound. First off, there is a big modern jazz influence  here, with the weighty, luscious saxophone up-front a lot of the time,  driving, or seconding, a lot of the melodies and rhythms. The drummer  knows how to keep the various elliptical elements together, with a hard,  often punky beat, on a lot of the tracks; the bassist keeps to a simple,  yet effective staccato bullet-time, and the guitarist plucks and  coerces his strings in a delightful, resounding way. They are all obviously  adept and highly talented musicians, who have studied all of the classic  1970's prog-rock, jazz-fusion and early  post-punk/electronica albums very carefully.

Of the highlights,  tracks 2, 3 and 5 stand out - 3 starts  off with a basic, strong rhythm,  which is contained throughout, but then the edges of the sound begin to  blossom out as the various instruments begin to fill the space. The  main sax oscillates speedily, quavering and straining at its physical  restraints, then the guitar joins in, and duets with the sax in a  strange, bleeding whirlpool of frenetic energy. All the background  instruments continue the beautiful assault - there is real depth to this  music. This track - and some of the others - is most reminiscent of  the post-modern, late 1970's and early 80's punk-jazz-rock sty-lings of  Robert Fripp's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But their influences  are much more wide-ranging than that - I picked up on the uber-rock-rave  doodlings of the Ozric Tentacles, and there are elements of the  post-punk experimental rock of The Pop Group, Rip, Rig and  Panic and John Zorn here  as well: track 5 being a standout homage to  the kind of speed-freak, semi-improvisatory order vs chaos discordia  that Zorn and his cohorts excel in. And of course, there is a good  smidgen of the type of edgy jazz-fusion harmonies spearheaded by the  likes of Miles Davis and Weather Report.

Perhaps the only track  that really didn't do it for me, was the slower, more 'ambient' track 4, which  doesn't really escape its own rather average guitar/sax melody-refrain -  it felt less powerful and imaginative then the rest, and in this light, it could perhaps be said that they could try pushing at least some of the music into an even more radical, discordant and experimental zone, as Zorn and countless others already have. However, regardless of this one caveat, going by the rest of it,  this is a fully-formed, finely tuned album that is intelligent and  invigorating

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

James DC
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