December 2006

Glenn Astarita BY

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Richard Pinhas

French guitarist and electronics wiz Richard Pinhas' soars to lofty heights on his latest album, a double-disc fiesta. He sports a blazingly fuzzed-out sound, marked by scorching single note runs and inventive sound manipulation and distortion. Pulsating, asymmetrical rhythms play a key role in the music too. Pinhas and his band-mates inject rich chemistry into their space-rock loops, with sweeping violins and other laptop-basd effects. As an added attraction, Metatron is set in a wide-open musical vista, in which minimalist-type themes expand and contract to produce a massive wall of sound.

State Of Euphoria
Sonar Kollektiv

Producing and performing under the moniker SoulPhiction, Michael Baumann combines expansive house music with a heap of other influences and genres. State Of Euphoria is a potpourri combining soulful rap, textural synths, buoyant African rhythms, snappy electronic pulses, ambient jazz and even cinematic effects, all of it underscored by a spoken word text that beckons the listener towards the fictitious Midnight Funk Association. Sure, music's firmly entrenched in party mode, but Baumann has depth too. He combines a hip and enjoyably raucous groove thing with acute insight and refined musicality.

Karl E.H. Seigfried
Criminal Mastermind
Imaginary Records

Up and coming Chicago bassist Karl E.H. Seigfried isn't a household name in jazz circles, though he's gigged with some notable players. So it must have taken some guts to release a solo album. Here he displays an enviable technique and a well articulated musical vision. Whether implementing creaky arco lines or tapping and thumping his acoustic bass strings, Seigfried pays close attention to resonance and contrast. He projects a vivid sense of isolation when working through the lower registers, and keeps the surprise element alive by tossing in unanticipated treatments along the way. He ends the set with a three-part suite dedicated to the late, great Chicago bassist Malachi Favors.

The Frankenstein Consort featuring Erik Lindgren
Classical A-Go-Go

Respected for his work with the estimable progressive-rock outfit Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, plus a string of varied solo outings, keyboardist/composer Erick Lindgren is at the top of his game here. Dreamy, toe-tapping, sensitive and multilayered, Classical A-Go-Go is a classical-jazz-rock project that steps beyond the genre's conventional horizons. Mutated, hybrid classical structures give the music a multi-hued jazz/conservatoire foundation, and the band aren't afraid of complexity or the unexpected. The inclusive vibe also embraces rock, with a punchy take on rocker Edgar Winter's 1970s' classic, "Frankenstein.

Seth Meicht Quartet

On Illumine, Pennsylvania-reared saxophonist Seth Meicht opts for a twin tenor attack alongside fellow player Matt Bauder, riding a drums/bass rhythm section. The music is distinguished by sinuous designs and topsy-turvy undercurrents. The saxophonists incorporate whispery jazz dirges, perky unison choruses and new-bop, merged with 1960s' style avant-garde maneuvers. Meicht and Bauder are clearly in sync, and execute their respective parts with pep and zip. On the title piece, they open it up in climactic fashion. Like the title suggests, the music—enhanced by diversity and group-based focus—illuminates.

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