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The Jeff Gauthier Goatette: House of Return

Glenn Astarita By

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Violinist/producer Jeff Gauthier is well-known for his cutting-edge solo work and being a proponent of his label's crystalline, sonic engineering process, where most all the details and nuances can be detected, even with low-budget stereo equipment. The Goatette's third release continues to demonstrate the musicians' nearly telepathic interactions amid an abundance of structured and improvisational components.

The quintet clearly projects a mark of distinction and from a stylistic perspective it might be somewhat of an anomaly to rigidly pigeonhole its sound and scope. It pursues an acoustic-electric brew that contains dreamy and lush mainstream jazz parts amid torrid and semi-free exchanges, often catapulted by Gauthier's soaring violin phrasings. However, the group does indeed sustain an identity within these multifarious compositions, to include guitar hero Nels Cline's blitzing, distortion-based jazz-rock lines and more.

Gauthier's outlook seemingly combines asymmetrical doses of polished, jazz-fusion with garrulously climactic opuses and space-rock overtures. At times all hell breaks loose, to a point where the artists are apt to play tricks with your neural network. Highlights abound by the nanosecond, regardless of cadence or timbre. In various regions of sound and scope, the quartet punches out regimented pulses via memorable primary themes and Gauthier's surging acoustic or electric violin passages.

Cline occasionally tosses in a few reverse loops and harmonics as the frontline often reformulates a given theme. On drummer Alex Cline's "Dizang," the musicians turn an interstellar crash and burn motif into a thriving dreamscape, augmented by keyboardist David Witham's echo-laden Fender Rhodes voicings. But Gauthier concludes the piece via his tender choruses as the band descends back to earth. It all resonates rather splendidly.

Lots going on under the proverbial hood as this 2008 album might loom as the band's supreme musical statement to date. That alone might ring as a bold declaration, especially when considering Gauthier's impressive record of accomplishment.


Track Listing: Biko's Blues; Friends of the Animals; I.O.A.; House of Return; Dizang; Satellites and Sideburns; Dissolution.

Personnel: Jeff Gauthier: violin, electric violin, effects, percussion; Nels Cline: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, effects, percussion; David Witham: piano, keyboards, effects; Joel Hamilton: bass; Alex Cline: drums, percussion.

Title: House of Return | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Cryptogramophone

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