John McLaughlin – Floating Point (Abstract Logix, 2008)
Guitarist John McLaughlin combines two of his great passions on his most recent album, jazz fusion and the music of India. McLaughlin spent several months in India working with musicians and building a unique sound for this project. He spends much of this album playing a guitar synthesizer, while the rest of the band is made up of Indian musicians who take eagerly to the multi-cultural fusion. The disc begins with the fast and intense "Raju" where McLaughlin alternates between synth and electric guitar, and he is driven by some ferocious drumming and sitar playing. The slower "Maharina" is given atmosphere by the synthesizer and acoustic piano. The addition of swirling flute to "Off the One" lends some very interesting texture to the music. Flute also drives "14U" the melody of which sounds something like a 1970's TV show theme, but whose improvisational section is quite potent with synth, percussion and elastic electric bass leading the way. Vocals are included on the aptly titled "The Voice," improvising around the synth and percussion. "Inside Out" has some spitfire guitar playing and upfront, brittle drumming offset by softer synth interludes. "Five Reave Band" wraps things up with burning guitar led fusion that is a very impressive performance. This was a solid and interesting album built on some very thoughtful musical cross pollination, something that McLaughlin has advocated for a long time. While I can't quite agree with Downbeat's recent five-star rapture over this disc, it is definitely commendable and recommended to fans of fusion.
Floating Point - amazon.com
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