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Scott McGill's Hand Farm: Ripe

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Hand Farm, this incarnation, is McGill, (ex-Finneus Gauge), on electric and acoustic guitars, Chico Huff, (Mistaken Identities), on bass, Vic Stevens, (Gongzilla, Mistaken Identities), on drums, and Demetrios Pappas guesting keys on two tracks.

This is McGill's second offering. It loses no momentum from the first fusion locomotive that monstered past with his self-titled debut Hand Farm. You'll find all the rockin' jazz fusion you dug in Hand Farm and more. There are two solo acoustic tracks and an acoustic lead in "DDR" that is perfect for the song's mellow moment. The short acoustic songs have that Bill Connors/ Theme To The Guardian and Larry Coryellian feel. Pappas' keyboard leads are a nice change up too. His synth work on "Skwerbie" is brazen, brash but definitely fusion cool. Think Corea, Hammer, or Holzman.

Some folks may say Ripe is a nebulous cloud of notes, meandering chords, and too enigmatic for their proggy tastes. Such is a typical reaction to Holdsworth, Connors, Freeman, La Greca, Garsed, Helmerich, Lane or so-called "out-there" fusion. It requires massive neural remapping by years of intent listening to correctly appreciate such.

McGill expertly honors Holdsworth's matchless legacy, leaning towards a rockier, overdriven-voiced, sharp-edged crunch in his delivery. Ripe echoes Holdsworth's Road Games, Metal Fatigue, Heavy Machinery collaboration, and I.O.U. You'll even find some Fripp moments in "Ong's Hat". Still no vocals.

One minor complaint, Vic Stevens' drum solo intro on "Industrial Blowout", smothered the song's dynamic flow. My head fell into a gigantic Florida pothole after doin' 85 mph on I-95. The song screamed for a Tony Williams/ Billy Cobham stick-burst. Stevens took too long in getting there. Save for that one subjective complaint, superb musicianship ruled. Highly recommended fusion.

Scott McGill's Hand Farm: RIPE (CD, 61:22); The Laser's Edge LE 1031

Title: Ripe | Year Released: 1999


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