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Barry Romberg: Random Access Part 3

Dan McClenaghan By

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It's hard to ignore a set that includes a musical dedication to the late Long Beach, California poet laureate, Charles Bukowski. The closer on Toronto-based drummer Barry Romberg's Random Access Part 3 does so with "The Long Haul," referencing, perhaps, Bukowski's long slog to a belated success as an author of distinctively gritty prose and poetry.

The disc is touted as "musical experiment," a creation of musical structure out of chaos. That—deleting the word "musical"—might be the essence of all art. Romberg's art here is group improvisation shaped into a tight structure with overdubbing.

Barry Romberg's sound hasn't fully filtered down across that long border separating his native Canada from the US, and it's a shame. He's distinctive and prolific, swirling his own brand of originality with established sounds; and the sound he uses as a base here seems in large part Miles Davis, from Filles De Kilimanjaro to the fusion guitar-fueled seventies Davis work, through the dreamier and more abstract Aura and into his Marcus Miller-produced sounds, featuring a good deal of muted trumpet and funky grooves and rock-ish guitar; with two main differences from the Miles sound to claim as his own. One: Hugh Marsh on violin. Marsh's axes are of the electric variety, creating a sound that isn't anywhere close to that of an accoustic instrument. This listener, going in blind, wouldn't have even guessed "violin," more like some kind of sythesizer, with a hollow, glowing sound, like something mildly radioactive; and that makes for some interesting harmonies and textures. Two: Romberg's drumming isn't like anything Miles used. His approach is crisp and geometical, full of tight grooves, dividing the sometimes swirling music into percussive departments.

An attention-grabbing set, electric in atmosphere, combining extremes—loose/tight, funky/abstract—always interesting.

Visit Barry Romberg on the web.

Track Listing: Day 23, The Two Elvins, On the Lamb, A Peace of Mind, Good Morning Mr. Phelps, Serenity Now, Unneccesary Celebration, Easy Forward, The Plastics, Big Rotten, Not a Spec of Cereal, The Long Haul

Personnel: Barry Romberg: drums, electric percussion, synth; Hugh Marsh--violins; Kevin Turcotte--trumpet; Kelly Jefferson--saxophones; Geoff Young--guitar; Levon Ichkanian--guitar; Rich Brown--bass; Adrean Farrugia--fender rhodes; Greg De Denus--fender rhodes

Title: Random Access Part 3 | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Romhog Records

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