The technological revolution is seeing ever more musicians recording and producing music themselves, thus threatening the predatory species known as big labels with extinction. Jack Broad is one such musician, and his independent debut, Current
, was written, programmed, played, recorded, mixed and produced by the guitarist in little more than a year.
Broad is a guitarist with great chops and an approach to the guitar that is as much informed by the blues-rock of Jimi Hendrix
as it is the fusion breed six-stringers. The combination results in an exciting attack with various accents. Add to the mix a keen sense of melody and penchant for catchy tunes which range from synth-pop to Steve Hillage space-rock/dance-beat ambience, and the result is never short of absorbing.
Broad uses sprinklings of spacey effects to conjure large sonic horizons on the intro, "Realm," which also features passing tabla beats and a drum 'n bass rhythm. The beat segues into the title track where the melody, presented by Broad's guitar, is carried along on a repeating keyboard scale. He develops his solo without loitering and displays clean, fluid lines which never abandon the melody.
One of the most satisfying aspects of Current is its variety of musical textures. "Swamp Witch" lays down an ominous bass groove, out of which Broad produces a grinding, blues-rock solo that barks, howls and spits before returning to the depths of the swamp. There is an epic quality to the brief "Rise and Shine," and Broad's long, crying notes suggest Pink Floyd's David Gilmour playing the soundtrack to the film Blade Runner (1982).
As impressive as his guitar playing is, programming and keyboards share center-stage, and Broad even sets his guitar to the side on "Never Coming Back," the second-longest track on Current. The pretty keyboard riff, big drum beat and darkly anthemic synth melody could almost be a wordless creation of The Cure, and is a highlight of the album.
A churning bass sound, almost didgeridoo-like, anchors "Emanations," the most overtly jazz-like number on the disc. Broad solos in a refined, melodic manner which, on a superficial level, is suggestive of Pat Metheny
, although Broad's soloing style is slightly more angular and tarter. The closer, "Nu Sounds," has an underlying club groove, with a heavy bass bottom and swirling synth setting the stage for Broad's most unfettered guitar solo of the set.
A solo project in the truest sense, Broad takes all the plaudits for an engaging and impressive debut. It would be fascinating, however, if his next project were to see him surrounded by like-minded musicians. Jack Broad has created music which is raw and earthbound one moment and spacey and atmospheric the next. His ability to successfully integrate ambient pop with guitar-based fusion excursions and juxtapose insistent rhythmstribal and modern alikemarks him out as a talent worthy of wider recognition.
Personnel: Jack Broad: guitars, all instruments, programming, engineering, mixing, production.