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Track List: 1. Red Shift 4:37 2. Spectrum Walk 5:22 3. Polychromatic 3:12 4. Traveling Through Vacuum 4:57 5. Radiation Pulse 4:53 6. Prism Suite 4:32 7. Light Waves 6:35 All tracks: by Martin Maheux. Line-up: Martin Maxeux - drums; programming Frederic Alarie - upright bass Rachel Duperreault - violin Jean-Francois Gagnon - trumpet Guy Dubuc - keyboards & piano Produced by Martin Maheux. Engineered by T. Kerwin at "Room & Road" studios, Canada. Mastered by MM & M. St-Pere at "Park Ave", Montreal.
Preamble. MM Circle is a new project led by Martin Maheux, the drummer for the well-known Canadian band Spaced Out. "Physics of Light" is an all-instrumental concept album, and it's clear that the destination of it is the expression of various aspects of the nature of light by dint of music.
The Album. To my surprise, the music presented on "Physics of Light" has absolutely nothing in common with that of Spaced Out. Although the genre, chosen by Martin, is nothing else but Jazz-Fusion, the contents of the debut MM Circle album are highly original. Musically however, they're not of a unified stylistics. Indeed, the physics of light (not to mention the quantum mechanics) is certainly not uniform, so I wonder to myself - why did I write this here? (Well, all we know that the written word remains. Nevertheless, I see that there are two unnecessary sentences in this review already. No, three! So I think I must stop myself now and sorry for presenting here the physics of twaddle.) Back to "Physics of Light", this highly complex 'science' turned out to be very interesting, which, though, becomes more and more obvious with every successive listen. Down to Earth, four out of the seven compositions on the album are about a real Jazz-Fusion, i.e. the confluence of Jazz (Jazz-Rock in this case) and Symphonic Progressive. These are: Red Shift, Spectrum Walk, Traveling Through Vacuum, and Prism Suite (1, 2, 4, & 6). Unique, intricate, eclectic, contrasting, magic, hypnotic, and (even) dramatic - all these words are actually a very appropriate set of prefixes that should stand before a genre definition of the said four compositions, as well as the album's closing track, which I'll describe a bit later. Varied, highly inventive and intricate interplay between passages and solos of piano and synthesizers, solos of bass and trumpet and passages of violin, all of which flow to the accompaniment of a very diverse and expressive drumming, are the general characteristics of the arrangements that are featured on the album. Unlike any others, Polychromatic and Radiation (3 & 5) are such 'categories' of "Physics of Light" that are distinguished by a high turbulence of most of the elements that they consist of. In other words, both of the said pieces are the only tracks on the album where the number of improvisations exceeds that of the composed solos. No violins are heard on any of these compositions, and the parts of trumpet, piano, and bass, along with those of drums, are wonderfully of a jazzy, eclectic, and, at the same time, hypnotic character - especially those on Polychromatic. Apart from the parts of instruments, listed in the previous sentence, Radiation features also the 'flying' solos of synthesizer. Surprisingly, the album's closing track, Light Waves (7), was performed without Martin, as there are neither drums nor any other percussion instruments on it. Like all four of the tracks that I've described first, overall, this piece also consists of the mixed, jazzy and symphonic, musical textures, though the latter of them are here really bright. Those of you who have listened to this album already, know that, unlike the light itself, Light Waves move slowly. Furthermore, it turned out to be that not only magic, but also emotional aspects - dramatic in this case - reside them. Great!
Summary. Martin Maheux is a very talented composer, arranger, and musician. And what is more, he is one of only a few of those Jazz-related performers who are able not only to animate the soul (or the spirit) of this music, but also to express through it such emotions that are more than merely familiar to anyone of us. In that way, I am sure that those who are exclusively into Jazz-Fusion won't limit the potential audience of the "Physics of Light" album. Most of the Art-Rock lovers should find this album brilliant as well. IMHO, the release of the debut MM Circle album is one of the most important events that happened in the new millennium within the framework of the Jazz-Fusion genre, to say the least.
VM: December 30, 2002
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