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(58:38, Favored Nations Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Eye of Horus 5:48 2. Still Beautiful 6:32 3. Riversides 4:48 4. Yemin 6:23 5. Legend 5:36 6. Tales 4:52 7. Rose on Water 2:40 8. Flying Spirits 6:57 9. Serene 4:33 10. Kismet 4:19 11. JB Top 6:10 LINEUP: Nicolas Meier – guitars; glissentar, baglama Vinnie Colaiuta – drums Jimmy Haslip – bass With: Sally Jo – violin Lizzie Ball – violin Richard Jones – violin Gregor Carle – el. guitars
Prolusion. Swiss musician and composer Nicolas MEIER is a well versed musician, the leader of a metal band Seven7, who has been a part of the Jeff Beck Band and is the band leader of his own Nicolas Meier Group. His first solo outing was released back in 2010, and two more solo albums, plus a collaborative one, have appeared since then. "Infinity" is Meier's third and most recent solo album. It was released by the prestigious US label Favored Nations about a month ago.
Analysis. Nicolas Meier does have a varied background indeed, but I rather suspect that those who know about him from background alone might be ever so slightly surprised about the contents of this album. Placing it inside a general sphere of reference isn't the easiest one, but if I was forced I would probably archive "Infinity" somewhere inside the jazz rock shelves, although a good case could be made for world music as well., depending on point of view perhaps even a stronger one. There are basically two types of compositions on this CD, with a single instance of a track that heads out into vastly different landscapes as the exception that confirms the rule, so to speak. This is also a purebred instrumental affair, which isn't all that unusual to encounter when a guitarist creates a solo album. Around a third of the compositions at hand are tranquil, delicate affairs that explore landscapes within a fragile, jazz rock oriented context. The greater part of the remaining tracks are creations with much more of an exotic and worlds music flair to them, most often with tones and scales that inspire associations towards the Middle East, but also to Egypt (as on opening track The Eye of Horus) and Asia (Riversides). The exception on this disc is concluding track JB Top, a composition that resides somewhere along the halfway point between ZZ Top and Joe Satriani, arguably with a bit more of the latter than the former. This is also the only song here that features guitar riffs, and is also one of the few that features a distinct, flowing electric guitar solo. The main defining trait for this production is the use of wandering, plucked guitar notes in just about all circumstances. Slow resonating notes, quirky scale runs, firm and pace-filled lead motifs and solo runs all tend to revolve around plucked guitars. Meier is skilled enough as both a composer and performer to navigate those waters and still keep it interesting; especially when the violin is used to emphasize the more exotic sounding landscapes, this album is a true delight to lend an ear to. With the elegant backing of Colaiuta and Haslip, seasoned musicians that enhance the total experience in many subtle and a few not so subtle ways, the CD comes across as an energetic, warm sonic journey that contrasts the chill of the fall season to perfection, bringing with it the warmth of distant places under a warmer sun to your living room.
Conclusion. While I suspect that one could argue back and forth quite a bit about whether or not this CD belongs to jazz rock or world music, the important bit about it is that it is a really good one. An affection for instrumental music is obviously needed, and a soft spot for music with a recurring exotic and at times mystical atmosphere is also a requirement for the listener. But those who recognize themselves in such a description, and then in particular those fascinated by compositions where wandering, plucked guitars are central, will most likely find "Infinity" to be a CD well worth acquiring.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: October 22, 2016
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