Released shortly before turning seventy, Christy Doran's third outing with Sound Fountain finds the Irish-born, Lucerne-based guitarist playing as well as at any time during his fifty-year career. It marks a blistering return for Doran to electric trio terrain, following the experimentation of 144 Strings for a Broken Chord
(Between the Lines, 2018)compositions for twenty electric guitars, four basses and drumsand the uncategorizable, and sonically challenging, Âme Sèche
(Leo Records, 2018). The template here is broadly the same as that laid out on Belle Epoque
(Between the Lines, 2016) and UndercurrentLive at Theatre Gutersloh
(Intuition, 2017); that's to say, punchy riffs and circling motifs woven over fiercely driving rhythmic patterns, but, as these eight instrumentals attest, four years of gigging has sharpened the trio's claws.
Sound Fountain's strength lies in its equilibrium, with bassist Franco Fontanarrosa
and drummer Lukas Mantel
equal partners in the adventure. Indeed, much of the excitement is generated not so much in the soloing, good as it is, as in the trio's exhilarating interplay. In fact, Doran and Fontanarrosa's respective solos on "Every Dog Has its Day" inject wiry abstraction and lyricismrather than more fuelinto the furnace of powerhouse riffs and churning rhythms. The pattern may be similar throughout, but Doran's writing, laced with instantly memorable hooks, imbues each composition with a distinct personality.
The relentless, chugging-train rhythms of Mantel's brushes that underpin "Thanks to Otmar" spur Doran to a gnarly, solo of compelling twists, but long after the guitarist's fireworks have abated it's the trio's rhythms that remain etched in the memory. On "Andromeda" the dialog is less fiery, but tightly bound nevertheless, with pockets of accelerated rhythm, and Doran's measured solo, breaking up the pattern. The title track provides the album's greatest adrenaline rush. This searing trio workout, founded on Doran and Fontanarrosa's breathless unison lines and Mantel's dramatic stick work, is crowned by a typically gritty, impassioned solo from the leader.
Fontanarrosa and Mantel contribute starkly contrasting compositions. Fontanarrosa's "Abstracción Felina" plies an episodic course, with punchy unison riffs and more pensive passages bookending Doran's delightful melodic motif. Mantel's "The Spanish Moment" is a dreamy affair that somehow balances baroque grace and airy psychedelia. The trio share writing credits on two numbers: "Fountain V" is a brief exercise in loose abstraction, with Doran's loop effects chiming like woozy bells; "Fountain II," on the other hand, progresses from ethereal sound-scaping into a disarming thirty-second abyss of complete silence, only for the trio's fires to be rekindled in an edgy attack punctuated by Doran's Jimi Hendrix
-esque blues and a killing, grungy riff.
Direct enough to merit the powerhouse trio tag, yet sufficiently left-field to fall into avant-rock or alt-rock fields, For the Kick of It
provides heady testament to Sound Fountain's collective talents, spearheaded by the ever-agile Doran.