Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Shardik - Shardik (Tzadik, 2017)

Shardik is an exciting new extreme jazz/post-rock group made up of Matt Buckley on drums and percussion, Matt Hollenberg on guitar and Nick Shellenberger on bass and synthesizers. Hollenberg also plays in the powerful jazz fusion group Simulacrum and like that group, this trio melds avant-garde jazz, speed metal and haunting ambiance into a brash and potent combination. Hollenberg is the primary composer of these intricate songs and leads this power trio in a very successful manner. "It Is What It Isn't" opens the album with some scalding electric guitar and rumbling bass over chopping and rolling drums. They stretch out and develop a complex rhythm that suits the volume and dynamics of the performance. Choppy riffs and figures abound before opening an eye wall into a calmer and more spacious flavor of music. Subtle synth and guitar glide into sight before the group recovers to a driving conclusion. They absolutely blow the doors off of "Inner Dimensions" sounding like a post-modern Mahavishnu Orchestra, with the torrid collective improvisation leading to the introduction of choppy, sharp riffs that cut deeply, interspersed with moments of uneasy calm. "Faustian Bargain" works sharp angles into the music, with the start-stop nature of the music giving things an edge, while the pacing and rhythm appears to unfold gradually. "Past Lives" develops a cool almost surf music theme, before blasting that out of the water with heavy slabs of guitar and pummelling drums, while there is a lighter feel to "The Great Attractor" which skips gingerly around the theme before they open up with some nice elastic bass and nearly swinging drums. "No Arrival" kicks things back into gear with turbocharged guitar and drums that interweave pockets of near silence which are used to frame the 'fire in the hole' blasting sections. The trio puts things over the top on "Vorga T:1339" with scalding guitar, playing fast interchanging sub-themes, like something you would hear on the Naked City album, cutting and juking like an unstoppable force. They use abrupt and jagged rhythms with a brutal attack, and deep imagination. The concluding "La Douleur Exquise" opens with an unexpected jazzy, cinematic feel, with spacey synth added for color, and the group forming a tight narrative. They switch gears suddenly and return to the loud and primal energetic setting which is their bread and butter while riding the dynamic nature of the track to its conclusion. While much of this album is contains blasts of raw power, there is subtlety to be found in passages throughout the record. The group is far from a one trick pony and makes a very impressive statement throughout the album. Shardik - amazon.com

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