148

The Oscillators: Beat Tectonics

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
The Oscillators: Beat Tectonics The Oscillators is a four-piece instrumental band from Washington, DC. As quartets go it' slightly unusual as the front line is led by saxophone and electric guitar, something in the vein of Scandinavian group Jazz Kamikaze, though it's difficult to think of many other groups who employ such a tandem. Beat Tectonics, the band's debut, was recorded in a mere two days and, as is often the case with such a speedy approach, the energy level in the playing is high, though not at the expense of the quality of the production, which is polished.

All, bar one, of the eight compositions were composed by drummer, keyboardist and nominal band leader, Charles Ostle. Perhaps more songwriting input from the other members of the band might have resulted in a more challenging listen, because if there is a weakness in the material it's in its slight predictability. Ostle and bassist Glen Oliff never stray too far from maintaining a tight groove, whilst saxophonist Matt Rippetoe and guitarist John Lee trade solos on nearly every track. On the occasions when Oliff slips his tether—during "Theme Song for the Oscillators" or the intros to "Singko" and "Caspian"—the music if lent a touch of lyricism, arriving like a welcome breeze in a slightly stuffy room.

To Ostle and the band's credit, the music sounds in no way derivative, other than being somehow rooted in the early '70s at times, particularly on the rock-inspired beginning of "Entropy," which features a lively solo from Rippetoe. When not following each other's lead, Ritppetoe and Lee play nice unison lines, peeling off in turn to strut their stuff. Lee's distorted sound, as on the oddly titled "Telefunken"—which has little to do with funk—again harks back to the '70s, but in no way detracts from his impressive technique. Fans hungry for the return of extended guitar solos will not be disappointed.

The album's standout track, "Quirks, sounds like the soundtrack to a skin flick; its undeniably sexy, throbbing groove gives way to buoyant, soaring guitar, and a sax which is reminiscent of free-flowing Gato Barbieri from, you guessed it, the '70s. Ostle displays the range of his talents with a fine keyboard solo, before the pulsing groove returns to close this high energy, seductive tune. Again, on "A Good Macrobrew," Ostle turns to his keyboards, producing an altogether spacier sound. Given his obvious pedigree on keys it is something of a mystery that they are not employed more often throughout the album, to break up the guitar/sax monopoly and add a little more depth and variation to the overall band dynamic.

Beat Tectonics is a respectable calling card for a band which probably packs quite a punch live, if the extended soloing here is anything to go by. There is musical talent in abundance, and enough signs to suggest that The Oscillators have something to say, but this outing falls a little short of being essential listening.


Track Listing: Analog Cabin; Telefunken; Entropy; Quirks; Singko; A Good Macrobrew; Caspian; Theme Song for the Oscillators.

Personnel: Charles Ostle: drums, vocals, keyboard; John Lee: guitar; Glen Oliff: bass, vocals; Matt Rippetoe: tenor saxophone.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Bossa Beats | Style: Fringes of Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "City Colors" CD/LP/Track Review City Colors
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 28, 2016
Read "Four Plus Three" CD/LP/Track Review Four Plus Three
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 5, 2016
Read "The Soul Jazz Beat Vol. 2" CD/LP/Track Review The Soul Jazz Beat Vol. 2
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: July 20, 2016
Read "Les Rhincéros III" CD/LP/Track Review Les Rhincéros III
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 18, 2016
Read "Short Stories" CD/LP/Track Review Short Stories
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: November 3, 2016
Read "Reflections Of A Voice" CD/LP/Track Review Reflections Of A Voice
by Chris Mosey
Published: January 14, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!