Anyone craving that warm roundedness of 1980s-era Pat Metheny will feel right at home stepping to the wheelhouse of guitarist David Wright, whose Phonograph Team Project has knocked one out right out of the park with Morph. And yet, as the apt title of this second album from Wright's simpatico quartet implies, the Metheny element is but one of many blending inseparably into its mixture. For while the strains of "Find A Place" set a tone that is indeed comforting and nostalgic, it feels as fresh as morning dew in its reflective properties. The mood continues, unabated, in "There You Are," which opens the window even wider to let in the light of dawn. Where the first track emphasized the atmospherics of keyboardist Gianluca Grasso, here the emphasis is on the rhythm section of bassist Rob Glass and drummer Tommaso Monopoli.
Comparisons aside, these musicians emerge with a unique collective style firmly in their grasp. Much of that distinction comes from Grasso's painterly attention to color. Whether in his combination of piano and synthesizer in "After The Movie" and "The Time You Have" or the retro arpeggiators of "Lost Art" and "Take Advantage," his contributions draw an ideal line of glue between the rhythm section's tessellations of fire and ice and Wright's meticulous overlay. The latter does, however, provide a core melodic thrust to the proceedings, which by its deference to a solid backing yields sublime interactivity. "Let's Star" is a standout track in this regard. It's deft cycling of solos and jigsaw puzzle-like fit make it a joyous stopover in the album's road trip.
For the sake of variety, the path from A to B is by no means smoothly paved. An "Interlude" and "Outro," both seemingly culled from the same freak-out group improv, provide welcome spikes of lava in this otherwise cool crust, cleansing the palate for what's to come, while the humorously titled "Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition" dances forth with Latin-inspired acoustic picking and shows the band's chops at their sharpest.
All told, Morph is an optimistic jaunt with enough verve and imagination to warrant repeat listening, all wrapped in an intimate production well-suited to its every eclectic turn of phrase.
1. Find A Place 04:51
2. There You Are 05:46
3. After The Movie 06:16
4. Interlude 00:10
5. The Time You Have 07:08
6. Lost Art 07:31
7. Take Advantage 07:31
8. Let's Start 07:40
9. Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition 06:04
10. Outro 00:07