Marbin: Breaking the Cycle (2011)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Marbin's sophomore album Breaking the Cycle is very different than its eponymous debut. Gone is the Zen-like, expansive but quiet sound, in favor of a cinematic quality with intensely complex tunes full of color and texture. The lineup has also expanded from the duo of guitarist Dani Rabin and saxophonist Danny Markovitch to include bassist Steve Rodby, a few different vocalists and various percussionistsand, most notably, veteran drummer Paul Wertico, whose hypnotic and propulsive rhythms drive the opening "Loopy." A modal composition anchored by Rodby's bass, "Loopy" has ample space for Markovitch's Steve Lacy-like soprano improvisations and Rabin's heavy, electric and electrifying guitar solo, which seamlessly fades out to shift the spotlight on Wertico, whose energetic drum statement is one of the highlights of this uniformly superior album.
"A Serious Man" is a warm and ethereal piece, with Markovitch playing the theme, like a wind blowing in autumnal field,s over the grooves laid down by bass, guitar and percussion. The lullaby like quality of "Mom's Song" is enhanced by Matthew Davidson and Leslie Beukelman's vocalese, while "Bar Stomp" evokes the dusty desert trails of the Old West gunslingers and lone horsemen; a vehicle for Rabin's intense and mellifluous solo, let loose over the triple drum sets of Makaya McCraven on the left, Jamey Haddad center, and Wertico on the right.
"Outdoor Revolution," despite its name, is a calm and beguiling saxophone sonata, buoyed by a bass/guitar/drums rhythm section, that conjures up images of empty streets and dusty sidewalks in an old city. The country-esque "Western Sky" sounds like a train ride through the countryside and the tango like "Burning Match" full of heartache and yearning sounds is almost a paean to lost love.
The narrative style and the intense momentum continues through the oriental sounds of "Claire's Indigo," the nocturnesque "Snufkin," and the mysterious "The Old Silhouette," to the grand finale.
Rabin's troubadour-like acoustic guitar opens the closing "Winds of Grace," like a medieval ballad with a coda of a quiet solo saxophone, backed only by chirping birds and nature sounds. It serves as an appropriate closer to this recording full of musical tales.
Marbin has created yet another stimulating and enchanting work that explores new and fresh musical territories.
Track Listing: Loopy; A Serious Man; Mom's Song; Bar Stomp; Outdoor Revolution;
Western Sky; Burning Match; Claire's Indigo; Snufkin; The Old Silhouette;
Winds of Grace.
Personnel: Dani Rabin: guitar; Danny Markovitch: saxophone; Paul Wertico:
percussion; Steve Rodby: bass; Jamey Haddad: percussion; Matt
Davidson: vocals; Leslie Beukelman: vocals; Danile White: vocals; Makay McCraven: drums.
Record Label: Moonjune Records