Incandescent Sky is one of those instrumental fusion 'n jam bands that carries on the tradition of Isotope, Shylock, and Ozric Tentacles, not to mention King Crimson and the array of ensembles crossing between composition and spontaneity. This session, though, is purely a set of exercises in the latter. The four gents checked into the studio and just went for it, nothing prepared beforehand but desire and will. The roster has long featured John Orsi (percussion), Don Sullivan (guitar), John McNeill (keyboards) and a trade-off between Mehool Patel and Mike Marando on bass; here, Patel dropped out and Marando stepped up.
Though I appreciate Marando's basswork, which here tends to stripped down anchor work, I rrrrreally like his 6-string playing (recently, he's been collaborating with video artist Dr. T), and the idea of guitar wars between him and Sullivan would be mouth-watering, but Sullivan's more than capable of holding down the slot solo and cuts swaths of Frippian buzzlines rather nicely. McNeill provides huge patches of coloration with incidentalism, and is the driving main force through the entirety of the disc while Orsi is as firm as ever in his Bruford-esque rhythms, very comfortable in the kind of modified African groove Bill carries when playing slit drums.
Antarctica will take progheads back to the old Le Orme / Banco days while its follower, The Byways, is floating, serene, and melismatic. A very strong cloud of dream invades every cut, and the players didn't plan on setting land speed records—save that for Greg Howe and Vitali Kuprij—instead creating landscapes, vistas, and auroral skies. More than once, the listener is struck by the interchangeability of the guitar and keyboards as tones and envelope characteristics fade and twist. Marando's bass is far far away, echoing though vapors and shafts of hazy light while Orsi keeps the pulse and tempo fresh. Orange Ice is especially exemplary of all this, and it's length (10:20) gives ample room for an extremely satisfying journey that more than once recalls elements of the old Neu E-music mode transposed through evolution and hybridization.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles