Fusion has always been a rarefied stratum of rock and jazz, intersecting somewhere in the middle but usually high above both. In singular instances, its orchestral aspects have been highlighted with striking results; thus, we had Gil Evans, Don Ellis, a good deal of Chuck Mangione, etc. After that, things radicalized even further: Either Orchestra, Strata Institute, Magma, Trummerflora, and so on. Now comes Darcy James Argue and his Secret Society in a reversal back to older days, picking up (while attentive to modern wrinkles) what Colosseum, Keef Hartley, and others missed.
Infernal Machines is a collaborative of 18 ace musicians conducted by Argue, and it blends all the aforementioned 70s bands with Maynard Ferguson's kindred forays, Doc Severinson's (anyone remember the Modern Trumpet Concertos release?), and several others'. Argue, however, goes them quite a few steps further, jumping rock patterns in when you least expect it, pastiching neoclassical elements, slipping in subtle prog atmospherics…you know, classily anarchic tendencies.
Each cut is long, imbuing ample room for exploration, extension, and euphoria. Chiefly a horn outfit with a quartet core of guitar, piano, bass, and drums, the Secret Society only subtly divulges who the soloists are—what looks to be credits under the song listings on the back cover are actually the virtuoso creds (hey, maybe they're not so secret after all!)—but there are solos aplenty as well as group exercises going back to Shaw, Goodman, Dorsey, and the geniuses who preceded the rock era. The emphasis is on production, extrapolation of theme, and texture as well as pointillism, ambientalism (oft a la film noir), and abstract rumination. No matter where you travel in this disc, you're immersed in a slinky and exotic literacy bridging many eras and genres, a blend striking in its fluency, inviting all represented modes to come out and mutate in the moonlight.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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