Saturday, August 22, 2015

Bret Higgins Atlas Revolt - Atlas Revolt (Tzadik, 2015)

Led by bassist Bret Higgins, Atlas Revolt is a band that combines a myriad of influences into an interesting and cohesive whole. Moving from groove based music to more adventurous settings they keep listeners on their toes. Higgins is accompanied by Aleksandar Gajic on violin, Robbie Grunwald on electric and acoustic pianos, Tom Juhas on electric guitar and Joshua Van Tassel on drums and percussion. Opening with the title track, “Atlas Revolt” begins with funky feeling drums while folding in electric guitar and violin. Some electric piano muscle in accompanied by a heavier drumbeat and a snarling electric guitar solo. A mysterious rhythm is developed on “El Metate” as dark toned violin and guitar produce a moody atmosphere. Juhas’s guitar has sharp bite and adds a dark tone to the enigmatic music that surrounds it. Shimmering electric piano and low tuned ominous drumming herald “All About The Starry Dark” before a wall of guitar noise bursts through, opening a path for solid bass and piano, setting a desert like scene for bolts of electric guitar to arc across the horizon. “Zagazig” shows the admirable rhythm group of bass, drums and electric piano locked in together, building an increasingly faster pace before the guitar bursts loose, keeping things from getting to serious, playing zipping sounds against the rest of the band’s backdrop. The leader’s beat is just excellent on this song, allowing the band to flare like fireworks in the sky above him. On “Sanan” there is a cool setting for strings and percussion, and then the guitar takes over, drawing everyone out, pushing and pulling the music at will. The music howls faster and then drops to a cool melody for the conclusion. Slower and heavier with dominant drums, “Meat For Dogs” has the bass and drums shouldering the brunt of the music as the guitar flints sparks across the scene trying to set fire to the tinder. “Vorticism” has a glistening, sunrise like beginning, moving in space and time as the fire gains growth through propulsive bass and percussion. There is some ripe guitar that keeps the proceedings moving apace and excellent bass filling up the openings and allowing the music to move confidently to the finish line. The album works well as a whole, the songs are well written and allow for musicians to make their mark with original statements and yet it is the ensemble playing that is the highlight of the album. This is a band album, and works well in its entirety. Atlas Revolt -

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