[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(73:49, Magna Carta Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Devil's in the Details 7:45 2. The Sun Also Rises 6:35 3. Tom Bombadil 4:42 4. The River Runs 6:23 5. The Shoemaker's Back 6:07 6. Ramona's Car Wash 4:58 7. Reggaelic 7:46 8. Firestarter 10:04 9. 20/20 19:29 LINEUP: Chris Poland – guitars Jake Cinninger – guitars Robertino Pagliari – bass Joel Cummins – keyboards
Prolusion. The US act OHMPHREY was formed back in 2009 by members of fusion band Ohm and jam band Umphrey's McGee, and released their debut album the same year. "Posthaste" is their second full length production, and was issued by Magna Carta Records in the spring of 2012.
Analysis. OHMphrey is a band that caters for a niche audience, a statement true about many artists obviously, but in some cases this is more true than others. What they are known for are highly improvised performances, all of them instrumental, with a nod in the direction of free form jazz and an expression that incorporates elements from rock, metal and progressive music of various kinds. On their latest disc some may be relieved when reading that this is a relatively structured production, while others may be slightly dismayed. But both sets of reactions will then be founded on a slightly faulty basis, the key word about the structures of these performances being “relatively”. Basically we're dealing with four slightly different kinds of performances on this occasion, each with its own strengths and weaknesses as far as possible target audiences go. Devil's in the Details, The Sun Also Rises and Tom Bombadil all establish a basic theme at the onset, which is followed by a brief improvised sequence. The opening theme is repeated, and a second improvised set kicks off. Following the second repetition of the theme an elongated improvised sequence follows, with a final repetition of the recurring theme and then a brief end sequence concludes the proceedings, all of the tracks leaving room for dampened, relatively gentle escapades as well as harder edged performances, up to and including metal tinged excursions and the occasional shred sequence. The River Runs and The Shoemaker's Back both take on a subtly different approach, bookended by gentle thematic constructions with careful improvising features, with a contrasting harder edged part in the middle featuring improvisations of a less restrained character. The following piece Ramona's Car Wash uses a slight variation of this approach, sporting a handful of themes with varying degrees of improvised features. Reggaelic, which concludes the studio part of this CD, is a slightly different beast again, opening with a gentle reggae based theme that slowly develops towards a psychedelic expression, and then letting go for a more or less freely improvised final part that fades out once the instrumentalists appear to hit off in directions less interesting to follow. The forty or so minutes covered in this manner are relatively structured, and feature an ample amount of challenging moments and a vast amount of instrumental details to keep track of for the avid listener. Ohmphrey fans that feel that the studio parts of this disc are too much limited by the sketchy framework it resides within will find the last two pieces to be the most intriguing, as will aficionados of improvised music of this kind in general I guess, two live performances pulled from a concert in 2009, Firestarter and 20-20, clocking in at about 10 and 20 minutes respectively. Both of them, at least to my ears, appear to be true to life improvisations. Perhaps and probably with a few telltale motifs utilized at set moments, but not to the extent that the performances can be described as structured in any true sense of the word. This all boils down to a rather challenging album, where the vast amount of improvised features and the mostly less than harmonic nature featured throughout will keep fans of this type of music more than happy. With high quality musicianship this is a production with the potential to reach a somewhat larger audience than the greater majority of such productions I guess, but by and large a fine and good quality CD that will cater for the tastes of a select and finite audience presumably.
Conclusion. Instrumental jazz fusion that touches upon a good variety of expressions and plentiful of passages with improvised features is what OHMphrey provides on their second CD "Posthaste". Mostly improvising within a sketchy framework these excursions aren't void of structure, but feature ample amounts of sequences that are rather free of boundaries too. Existing fans and followers of instrumental fusion with a high degree of improvised sequences should be a key audience, and in particular those amongst the latter that enjoy music of this kind when it also incorporates details more commonly used by metal acts.
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]