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Jim Black - AlasNoAxis: Splay

Glenn Astarita By

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This outing marks the follow up to drummer Jim Black’s well-received debut solo effort, Alas, No Axis. And while Black and associates render comparable regions of sound, they have seemingly cultured their overall approach with this new release. To that end, the musicians convey more of a “group” based vibe – partly due to less experimentation and more adherence to compositional attributes. Although, the drummer’s previous extravaganza was not lacking in the excitement and originality-of-concept arena.

One primary point of interest pertains to the band’s ability to infuse hard rock, or perhaps prog-metal type motifs with softly cultivated frameworks. Sure, the rhythm section exhibits a multitude of ways to spin a 2/4-rock pulse. Couple that with Jensson’s enticingly charming crunch chords and psychedelic lead lines. However, Chris Speed is the one who smoothes out the rough-hewn edges via his lyrically charged and alluringly melodic sax and clarinet parts. On “Cheepa va. Cheep,” guitarist Hilmar Jensson’s swarming chord clusters complement Speed’s use of what could be an old Casio keyboard. Hence, the band counterbalances blitzing rock motifs with a simple, childlike melody. The remainder of the program features sporadic EFX treatments, cosmic ballads, and surf music as the quartet intertwines doomsday like soundscapes with affecting melodies. Recommended...

Track Listing: 1.Aloe Evra 2.iCratic 3.Cheepa vs. Cheep 4.You Were Out 5.War Again error 6.Be 7.Myndir Now 8.Ant Work Song 9.Awkwarder 10.Blissed (Selfchatter Mix)

Personnel: Jim Black: drums, black box with glowing screen, black rubber chaos pad, pianica, buried guitar

Title: Splay | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Winter & Winter

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