David "Fuze" Fiuczynski continues to obliterate the boundaries of modern-day electric guitar styles, pushing himself further forward into the "world" sounds, techniques, scales, and rhythms that now constitute his calling-card. Funk can be 4/4 or 11/8, tone distorted or bone dry, chords root-fifth crunchers or undeniably undecipherable . He can make a fretted guitar sound fretless, but he's also the world's foremost fretless guitarist, rendering him one of the world's premier slide guitarists but he plays "slide" with his fingertips. All the notes, even the ones in between the twelve those other guitarists usually play, are at his disposal.
Kif Express provides potent extracts from his working band with Skoota Warner on drums and Steve Jenkins on bass, who share Fuze's voracity for all things atypical, yet grooving, and who've clearly cleaved to his concept. They've gigged heavily on the New York and Boston scenes, as immortalized in the homage to their preferred travel provider, "Fung Wah Express." This loping groove and fat pocket makes heads bob as no band fronted by anyone who wields a Chinese pipa ever has, but this is the tonality and sonority Fuze shoulders here. He seamlessly switches to Hendrixian rhythm-guitar psychedelics, another guitaristic subcategory for which he's a gold-medal contender. Feathering wah-wah into his single-note lines underscores the similarities between psychedelic and panethnic techniques before he strips his tone dry for a microtonal Asian jaunt over a Celtic drum groove. Before another more "conventional" fretless solo, Fuze offers a one minute clinic in the slip and slide chord voicings between the fretmarks, a further subcategory in which he seems the sole entrant. This tune supports Fuze's theory that the groove can lead the ear through uncharted micro-topography.
Fuze has also absorbed the legato linearity of Allan Holdsworth, and when he translates it onto the fretless plank of his doubleneck the results go beyond virtuosic into terrifyingly mind numbing territory, as on "Shiraz" and "Cumin."
Jenkins "in-Fuzes" his own brand of exotic pulloffs and Hendrixian chords into his prodigious linear turns on "Habibi Bounce" and the Morrocan-tinged "Ek Balaam." He belongs in the vanguard of formidable young bass soloists, but as the remainder of the session shows, he separates from that pack by locking down every groove that comes his way.
When Fuze elects to strip back tempos and surroundings, magic ensues , as on "Arcadia Finlandis," wherein he effortlessly tames Hendrix's crying winds, forging thick Ebow-like sustain and teardrop in-between notes from from his fretless. "Sakalahachi" adds desert bluster and Mongolian battle cries to the mix to such effect it cries out for more sonic manipulations; that is, until they're jettisoned and replaced by haunting doubling from the shakuhachi of Geni Skendo.
Kif Express places Fuze beyond cutting-edge, as a conceptualist of daunting capabilities and unwavering vision and one of the instrument's continuously consistent innovators. It shows not only that no other guitarist can do all the things he does, it provides glaring, dazzling proof that they're not even attempting.
Personnel: David Fiuczynski: fretted and fretless guitar; Skoota Warner: drums; Steve Jenkins: bass; Daniel Sadownick: percussion (2, 3, 4, 9, 10); Mike Rivard: acoustic bass (7); Jim Funnell: keyboards (4, 9); Nikolay Moiseenko: saxophone (4, 9); Bertram Lehmann: drums (7); Geni Skendo: shakuhachi (11).