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Dylan Ryan / Sand: Circa

Robert Bush By

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Circa is the second effort from drummer Dylan Ryan's trio Sand, featuring guitarist Timothy Young and bassist Devin Hoff, extending the concepts established on the 2012 release, Bleached Sky.

If you've ever pondered what Crazy Horse or Robin Trower might sound like with an acoustic bassist and a dynamically sensitive drummer, Circa provides an answer. The Nels Cline Singers are another obvious reference, although Young is a much different guitarist.

Young comes out rocking hard on the opener, "Trees, Voices, Saturn" with hard distorted lines over Hoff's relentless, unprocessed ostinato. Throughout the album, Ryan prefers to "lead from behind," rarely dominating the soundstage. Whammy-bar power chords toggle against clean Jim Hall snippets on "Possession," which also evokes Black Sabbath at certain points. Underneath Young's wah-wah onslaught, Ryan unleashes a series of tom-tom fills that sounds like a marriage of Gene Krupa and Ginger Baker.

A certain nod to Bill Frisell seems obvious on both the arena-anthem "Visionary Fantasy," and "Pink Noir," where Young's pedal-steel emulations hover over Ryan's percolating symphony of rimshot clatter. Keith Jarrett's "Mortgage on my Soul," though, is unrecognizably cloaked under the fiercest "wacka-wacka" this side of the Isaac Hayes theme from Shaft.

Hoff finally gets a feature on the change-of-pace-ish "Slow Sculpture," and he makes the most of it, turning in a brilliant slice of thumb-position flamenco-like musings in the tradition of the great Jimmy Garrison. Guitar effects chaos dominates "Night Sea Journey," which crams a lot of skronk into its 1:54 run time.

Anyone who enjoys jazz on the freer side with a very heavy dose of rock influence should glom onto Circa.

Track Listing: Trees, Voices, Saturn; Possession; Sledge Tread; Visionary Fantasy; Pink Noir; Mortgage On My Soul; Slow Sculpture; Low Fell; Night Sea Journey; Raw Rattle.

Personnel: Dylan Ryan: drums; Timothy Young: guitar; Devin Hoff: bass

Title: Circa | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records

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