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TRACK LIST: 1. Jerome's Spotlight 2:51 2. Trip the Light 4:10 3. Dance of the Kabuki 6:56 4. Prelude 0:56 5. No Diamond Cried 3:28 6. East Flatbush 0:49 7. Buzz 3:17 8. Smoke & Mirrors 4:50 9. Conversation Drag 3:59 10. World of Surprise 2:24 11. Ghosts 2:08 12. Fashion 5:13 13. Fuzz 6:57 14. As the Sun 7:35 All music: by Bahr, except 11: Bahr & Romano, 6: Romano, 4 & 5: Gurland, 8 & 13: TriPod. All lyrics: by Bahr. LINE-UP: Clint Bahr - 12-string bass; lead vocals Keith Gurland - saxophones, flute, & clarinet; vocals Steve Romano - acoustic & electric percussion Produced by R. Allaire & TriPod. Engineered by R. Allaire at "Skyline", NYC.
Prolusion. "TriPod" is the first official output by the American trio of the same name, though back in 2000, they independently released a demo album (on CD-R), which, by the way, was also untitled.
Synopsis. TriPod is a very unusual formation, consisting of bass guitarist/vocalist, drummer and wind instrumentalist, and they don't use any keyboards and guitars. Nevertheless, the band's music is for the most part outstandingly original, and the sound is rich, dense, and very saturated, all of which is especially evident on those compositions that consist mostly of highly eclectic and intensive arrangements. Above all, these are the first three tracks on the album: Jerome's Spotlight, Trip the Light, and Dance of the Kabuki. Extremely diverse and intricate, each of them is just mind-blowing and consists of constantly developing, mostly highly intensive and, often, just indomitable arrangements performed with the continuous use of complex stop-to-play movements, unusual meters, and kaleidoscopic changes of a musical direction. The cascades of different, highly unusual, yet, always logical and inventive interplay between wild solos of saxophones, virtuosi solos and dense riffs of bass guitar (often sounding truly heavy thanks to the use of bass pedals), and the very diverse parts of drums cross each other by inconceivable parabolas. The contrasts between 'lazy' and as if laid back vocals and highly intensive instrumental arrangements are also very impressive. Representing a unique combination of harsh Jazz-Rock, classic Jazz-Fusion, and (just) Fifth Element, all three of the said songs are just marvelous masterpieces, are undoubtedly the best tracks on the album and are the real hallmarks of it. All this progressive grandeur suddenly got stuck on track 4, and only on the album's last two tracks: Fuzz and As the Sun (13 & 14), the first of which is an instrumental piece, the band was able to find forces to return to the by all means remarkable music they've started with. Here again we here how virtuosi and, sometimes, uncommonly wild solos of saxophones and flutes create central arrangements in combination with very inventive bass guitar themes to the accompaniment of a highly diverse drumming. Nevertheless, while Fuzz and As the Sun are also the high-quality compositions, the level of compositional and performance mastery on them is a bit lower than that on the first three tracks. As for the core tracks, there are a few excellent and good numbers among them, but on the whole, all of them are much less diverse, original, and impressive than the five 'boundary' tracks of the album. No Diamond Cried, Conversation Drag, and World of Surprise (5, 9, & 10) are not without intricate and eclectic arrangements, but these hardly cover even a half of each of these songs that, overall, look like simplified versions of the best compositions on the album. The songs Buzz and Fashion (7 & 12) are about quite a simple Heavy Rock with the bits of Jazz-Fusion. These two are not only too straightforward, but also feature very predictable arrangements, which is partly due to the fact that both of them are done much in the vein of Primus. Among the remaining four tracks, all of which are instrumentals, a mellow, lightly improvisational Jazz-Fusion on Smoke & Mirrors (8) is OK, while the other three bits of music: 4, 6, & 11 (see track list above, if you wish), respectively representing somewhat of blitz benefit performances for sax and clarinet, acoustic and electric percussion, and bass, are too short and empty to define their style and even take them into account in general.
Conclusion. Having summarized all the advantages and defects of this effort, I came to conclusion that "Tripod" is an excellent album, nothing more nothing less. Before listening to it however, I will be excluding tracks 4, 6, 7, 11, & 12 when programming my CD player. Of course, my version of the CD will be shorter than the original, but the remaining 43 minutes are more than all right with me, especially since the duration of most of the classic albums of Progressive ranges from 40 to 45 minutes, and I used to such a format. I only wonder why this band didn't play everywhere on the album as bravely and strong as at the beginning and at the end of it, because it's clear that they were able to do this. Well, I think it's impossible to please simultaneously the lovers of profound and accessible music - unless you are Pink Floyd:-)
VM: October 15, 2003
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