Monday, June 24, 2019

Henry Kaiser / Anthony Pirog / Tracy Silverman / Jeff Sipe / Andy West - Five Times Surprise (Cuneiform, 2019)

Prolific guitarist and recording artist Henry Kaiser is not one to let a good thing go to waste and when series of precipitous meetings led to the opportunity to make an album, he jumped at the chance. Pulling together a high octane group to explore the netherworld between jazz fusion and progressive rock, the band includes Kaiser on guitars and effects, Anthony Pirog on guitar, Andy West on bass, Tracy Silverman on violin and Jeff Sipe on drums. It's a lengthy and muscular album, a treat for electric guitar aficionados and those who appreciate the intricate nature of their craft. The music ranges from the powerhouse take no prisoners fusion of "Haboob" where the two guitars go for broke, taking as much ground as they can in tandem and in combat, like a couple of fighter pilots showing off everything they and their machines can do. "Slicer" throws a head fake, starting slowly before turning in its heel and going into overdrive with science fiction affects and snarling attitude to spare. Starting in the form of a ballad, "Earthshine" grows heavier by the minute as the guitars beat out sparks and bursts out long tones amid the dynamic shifts. "Twenty Four Liars" layers the strings in a manner that is quite effective, with thick bass and varying tones of guitar and violin, sending flashy coded messages that twist and grind, finally dropping into a spacier proggy section abutted by a drum solo. There's some great bass playing underpinning "Why Starfish, Why?" as jabbing guitars trade phrases that are short and scrappy, split into the two stereo channels as the drums carve right down the middle. At less than three and a half minutes, its one of the shortest tracks on the album and one of the most memorable. The album closer, "Maneki Neko" is jacked up to manic speed at takeoff, with taut bass and lightning fast drumming in support before the long track moves into a dynamic suite like formation of wide open ambient soundscapes with drums filling in, to burnout all-in areas for scratching violin and scathing guitars. Actually, that's not quite the end, there's also a bonus track that’s available to people who purchase the album directly and is also a part of the digital release. “Twilight of the Space Gods” is a forty minute long-form instrumental experiment, a performance with more jagged shifts in tone and volume and yet more hedonistic guitar playing. Five Times Surprise - Cuneiform Records Bandcamp

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