Group Therapy: Digitalive
The Japanese sextet Group Therapy plays a relaxed style of fusion laced with an R&B feel, augmented by a horn duo with the unusual instrumentation of soprano sax and trombone. "Digitalive," the group's second self-released CD, was recorded live in April 2000 and contains three tracks, each clocking in at over 10 minutes.
Group Therapy's sound mixes R&B influenced fusion with horn choruses similar to early Chicago, producing a unique brand of jazz influenced music that remains melodically accessible and jam rock oriented. The soprano sax and trombone provide a unique horn section voice, with different timbres and ranges that compliment each other in an unusual yet highly appropriate way.
The three songs on "Digitalive" remain engaging despite their extended length by moving through different sections and tasteful solos. A bouncing bass line and horn exclamations punctuate the almost funk groove of "Atlantis." "Incident in Damascus" builds around a sinuous Middle Eastern melody introduced on guitar synth and soprano sax.
The rhythm guitar usually plays crisp, funk style clean chords, and the lead guitar steps forward for several elegant solos in a thick, smooth tone, discreetly mixed within the sound of the rest of the band. The soprano sax and trombone often trade short lead lines or take longer solos between horn choruses or band melody lines. The largely competent bass work occasionally falls into extremely simple patterns, such as the walking bass line beginning "Metalomania," and tends to repeat bass lines excessively without variations on the groove.
The sound of "Digitalive" contains some ragged edges, like a hum in the bass midway through "Atlantis," and the horn section out of tune during the middle of "Metalomania." However, the irrepressible, spontaneous flow of the music in a live setting conquers these sonic shortcomings.
The unique sound and the vigorous live performance of Group Therapy make the "Digitalive" CD-R EP a refreshingly original musical experience. The band's web site is informative, despite the innocuously self-aggrandizing tone of the prose and the occasionally awkward English.
Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock