Britain's Sphere3 blends light Tribal Tech-style fusion with a prog rock feel on Comeuppance, the group's first full-length recording in over ten years of writing and performing with various lineups.
Comeuppance features ten instrumental tracks, ranging from the concise "Eat First, Ask Questions Later" to the elongated "December Gaze." Synth textures and guitar solos usually keep recurring iterations of the same sections interesting, but the melodic heads resurface constantly and the longer songs feel repetitive in arrangement. A few tunes feature shifty prog rhythms, like the 7/8 riff in "December Gaze," but the repeated identical phrasing of this rhythm eventually tires. "Sidewalking," "A Good Example of Arbitrary Presumption," and "An Unusual January" all snap with a peppy fusion/rock vibe of bright keys and guitar that emerges as Sphere3's strength.
The sonic palette comes straight from light fusion, including clean piano, ethereal synth patches, a liquid lead guitar tone, and slap and pop bass. The sound seems to straddle a line between electric jazz and light rock without convincingly committing to either, despite jazzy piano breaks and the few heavy guitar riffs. The programmed synth drums of "Eat First, Ask Questions Later" create a jarring tonal shift from the crisp live kit featured on the rest of the disc, especially as the heaviest song on the record. The playing by all four instruments is sharp, particularly the jazzy snare drum ruffs and cymbal work, and the sound production is professional, highlighted in the acoustic piano.
Sphere3 blends airy fusion with just enough guitar to keep the music on the rock side of fusion while working in a few interesting rhythms. Fans of creative instrumental fusion should definitely check out Sphere3's very professional offering in this very difficult and rare musical style.