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(69:28, ‘R Cubed’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Bullet Train 4:21 2. Cheese Time 5:17 3. Dark Alley 7:21 4. Gotto Go 5:59 5. Spaghetti Western 6:46 6. Endless Journey 7:41 7. The Beginning and the Ending 6:55 8. Sight Unseen 5:35 9. Chupacabra 6:06 10. Uni Song 5:39 11. A Bright New Day 7:48 LINEUP: Russ Pettit – guitars Rick Alegria – drums Ron Sotelo – bass
Prolusion. The US trio R CUBED was formed in early 2010 by Russ Pettit, Rick Alegria and Ron Sotelo. All of them are musicians who merit a description as experienced, who collectively have multiple decades worth of playing experience between them. "The Beginning and the Ending" is their debut album, and was self-released in 2013.
Analysis. When a band consists of a drummer, a bassist and a guitarist, the description power trio will fairly often be used to describe what such a band may or may not be. In this case the power trio description is fairly accurate, although in a manner that isn't quite what one might expect for this particular breed of band units. Mainly because they do operate within a fusion framework, and one bordering on hard rock at that. The instrumentalists are all of top quality in this threesome. Drummer Alegria is the one who'll make most of an initial impact, kicking off with machine-gun rhythm attacks on opening number Bullet Train. As the album unfolds he gets to showcase an expertise in using percussion and subtler expressions while maintaining an energetic display, and some fairly virtuoso details do surface from time to time too. What strikes me most of all is the sheer precision of the drum patterns however, although I wouldn't be at all surprised if it is just as much a case of technical prowess. Bassist Sotelo gets to showcase most sides of his repertoire too. Circulating base motifs, adventurous solo runs and groove-laden lead motifs are all well withing his grasp, and while he thrives in delivering tight barrages of bass notes he's also fine with a slower or even gentle touch, and capable of tight interplay with the drums just as much as providing a base foundation for the guitars to shine on top of. Guitarist Pettit gets to dominate this album however. He does provide space for both Alegria and Sotelo, but this is first and foremost a guitar dominated excursion, alternating between quite a few different types of delivery, from resonating careful, light notes to dampened, funky riffs. From meaty riffs with a 70's touch and a rough but brittle expression that made me think about Robin Trower to compact, harder edged riff constructions that made me think of Canadian trio Rush. But most of all we're treated to guitar solo runs, and fairly often of a virtuosic rather than contemplative nature, focusing on the technical side of things rather than an atmospheric or emotional one, as I understand this album. The bass and drums cater for the majority of the jazz and fusion-oriented details throughout, even if guitarist Pettit does visit such landscapes occasionally he's just as much a provider of harder edged riffs or softly resonating details of some sort or other. And while it's not a production that will ever reach a substantial audience, it is a well made specimen of its kind, an album that suits a niche crowd and does so very well indeed.
Conclusion. Instrumental fusion with nods towards 70's power hard rock in the style of Robin Trower and virtuoso guitarists like Joe Satriani is what R Cubed provides on their debut album "The Beginning and the Ending". Eleven songs here are performed with the highest degree of precision, and probably of a fairly demanding technical nature as well. Not a disc I can imagine will find a massive audience, but fans of harder edged instrumental fusion should find plenty to enjoy here. Especially those amongst them who have a soft spot for consumate, experienced musicians showcasing their individual and collective talents.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: December 16, 2013
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