How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Taking a cue from his work with the Paradox Trio, guitarist Brad Shepik continues to delve into Balkan and Middle Eastern sounds on this follow-up to 1997's The Loan (also on Songlines). Aiding Shepik are Peter Epstein on alto and soprano saxophones, Skuli Sverrisson on electric bass, Michael Sarin on drums and percussion, and fellow Paradoxer Seido Salifoski on dumbek and percussion. Tracks like "The Flood," "Zephyr," and "Vapor Oro" zip along with head-spinning odd meters and fast unison melodies ' very similar to the Paradox Trio. "The Well" is a little calmer, giving Shepik a chance to display his rich tone on the archtop acoustic. "Quiver of Veils" is calmer still, beginning with a nimble bass intro by Sverrisson. On several tracks Shepik employs the saz, a balkan stringed instrument with a ghostly timbre. But in stark contrast to the unfamiliar sound of the saz, Shepik offers up "Might Could," a multitracked acoustic guitar etude with moments that could be classed as McCartney-esque.
Shepik's got the mind of a pioneer. The rhythmic complexity of his compositions has few parallels in jazz ' or any other genre, for that matter. With all his exotic influences, and all his different axes, he makes us rethink what it means to be a guitarist and a musician. There's no telling where he'll go next.