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(43:50, Table & Chairs Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Here I Am 2:30 2. Think Accessories 5:03 3. Warning 6:02 4. Seal Your Sight So Your Body Is Gone 7:04 5. Different People's Perception of the Same Thing 4:51 6. The Muse 5:17 7. Where Are You 3:07 8. Empty Space 4:51 9. Frightened Explorer 4:58 LINEUP: Ivan Arteaga – saxophones Rob Hanlon – synthesizers Jared Borkowski – guitars David Balatero – basses Evan Woodle – drums
Prolusion. OPERATION ID is an American band from the roster of the Table & Chairs Music label. “Legs”, their debut album, features drummer Evan Woodle, who seems to wear two hats, as he also plays with Chemical Clock, another new outfit from Seattle. By the way, both of the bands describe their music in a similar way. I won’t quote them, however, as I have my own vision of the matter.
Analysis. Anyhow, as if further defining the label’s creative policy, Operation ID often appears as a proponent of the musical direction that typifies their above labelmates’ work, offering up a high energy guitar-bass-and-sax driven avant-garde Art-Fusion (i.e. a confluence of avant-garde Art-Rock and Jazz-Fusion) that brings to mind both the more melodic side of John Zorn’s “Epsissimus” and the edgier side of mid-‘70s King Crimson, as well as more – at times much more – laidback arrangements, Ozric Tentacles-evoking ones in particular. All of this is typical of six of the nine tracks presented, Here I Am, Empty Space, Different People's Perception of the Same Thing, Think Accessories, The Muse and Seal Your Sight So Your Body Is Gone, although the latter four indicate that there are differences here too. Each of them also includes space fusion-style explorations, which might evoke Gong, Djam Karet or the same Ozric Tentacles (depending on a personal perception, as the title of the third of them – the richest in those – seems to suggest), the latter two each additionally revealing some impromptu stuff and almost doom metal-sounding moves respectively. Two of the pieces, Here I Am and Empty Space, each also has a brief vocal segment with lyrics, and I must note that the melody line of the latter instantly evokes Porcupine Tree. Most of the time, however, the band sounds very little like anyone else, as they create a fusion of styles that avoids any elements of slickness. Everyone, from the guitar to the synthesizer to the sax to the rhythm section, gets a turn to show off their chops, and the men are synchronized up whether pursuing complex avant-garde Prog (such as on each of the above tracks), eccentric improvisational Jazz Rock (on Where Are You), quasi Jazz-Fusion (on Frightened Explorer) or symphonic Space Rock (on Warning). Yes, the three last-named pieces differ from the others. Where Are You locks the guitar/bass/saxophone combination together into an intense free jazz setting, which is at times excessively eclectic, albeit it also showcases the band’s ability to go from one extreme of the dynamic range spectrum to the other almost in a microsecond. In its turn, Frightened Explorer indicates that the band has the ability to throttle back the intensity level and take a more thoughtful approach, though on the other hand the musicians aren’t too resourceful here, delivering some jovial “hey-hey” exclamations along the way, apart from a few conventional jazz tricks, such as slap bass histrionics and a joint unison playing. However, it’s only Warning (the second longest track here) that, well, really leaves much to be desired. Most of it sounds much like an intro to Eloy’s “Colours”, which is in turn inspired by ‘I Robot’ and suchlike instrumentals by The Alan Parsons Project.
Conclusion. On two thirds of the album the band is excellent, performing complex progressive music that challenges the senses while retaining a strong cohesion throughout, while the rest of the material reveals some signs of what is known as the debut syndrome. Nevertheless, along with a handful of other outfits (Chemical Clock included), Operation ID is one of the best new bands to appear on the avant-prog scene and is definitely one to watch in the future.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: January 13, 2012
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