From UK, review on dprp.net by Owen Davis
I just cannot work out why this album is so utterly compelling. Its ugly beauty and barbed mesh of discordant sounds leaves a disturbingly pungent after taste that cannot be easily removed; even by the liberal soothing application of a number of Brian Wilson’s most melodic tunes.
The fine musicianship of all of the players involved leaves little doubt that they have brought their “A” game to the project. The album features Xavi Reija (drums), Tony Levin (bass, double bass) Markus Reuter (touch guitar) and Dusan Jevtovic (guitar). The recording of The Sound Of The Earth took place on one day during August 2016. The spontaneous nature of much of that session is self-evident in much of the music that is on offer. The compositions are lively, inventive and perhaps more importantly, are loosely structured.
This enables all of the performers to improvise and adapt to the collective strengths of the other players. The imaginative space and sense of mystery and shared purpose that this creates, gives a great deal of freedom, for the exploration and timing of a variety of routes through the music. On some occasions, the diversions are fruitful and the results are genuinely exciting, on other occasions much less so.
There are numerous virtuoso passages, which display a range of incredible wide-open-mouth skills. Fans of progressive jazz fusion, will no doubt, quiver and shiver with absolute delight at the stirring way in which the music is delivered. Fans of melodic prog might bow their heads in disbelief and pound the pillow with a frustrated fist.
The Sound Of The Earth is not the sort of album for the fainthearted. If you enjoy music that you can hum, or whistle along to, then unfortunately, much of it may not be appealing. It is however, the sort of album to accompany hours, spent in concentration in darkened repose, whilst trying to unpick which path, or direction a player is choosing to travel at any given time.
The longest track on the album The Sound Of The Earth IV is in this respect, a mind-gazers delight. Its ambient sprawling nature and colourful patchwork of moods offers numerous opportunities to encounter and experience a patchwork of different sonic colours and varied musical routes.
The sound and approach of the two guitarists featured in the release is very distinctive and makes this aspect one of the albums most fascinating and enjoyable features. The contrast between the weeping raw cascading of the heavily distorted tones of Jevtovic, with the Fripp like fluidity of Reuter’s touch guitar is intriguing. The manner in which the two players duel, improvise and imaginatively joust is never less than enthralling and is often captivating.
Reija does not dominate proceedings and his contribution strikes just the right sort of balance between power and sensitivity. In tandem with Tony Levin, the rhythm section is impressive to say the least and the loose structure of the tunes gives more than enough opportunities for both players to excel.
There were times when the heartfelt warmth of a simple tune, or the chill of a doleful melody would have provided an emotional scaffold to drape the heart, or would have offered some less challenging relief, from the undoubted technical brilliance on show. The only tunes that have some sort of semblance of conventional sonic beauty are Serenityand in particular Lovely Place. Herein lies what some might perceive to be the main issue with this album. To put that in some context, it is not difficult to imagine many listeners who find the musical norms of mainstream prog appealing, shouting out in unison.
“That’s heavy shit man, but where are the tunes?”
Personally, I was not too bothered about the lack of an epic song to sing, or an Aqualung-like riff, or two, to knuckle rap. The Sound Of The Earth is an album that explores a raft of musical possibilities and this is what makes it so interesting, even though it is not always consistently satisfying.
The occasional glimpses of a more ear friendly approach in tunes like Lovely Place, did little to nullify the challenging assault upon the senses emitted by the largely unstructured and on occasion’s discordantly raucous nature of the compositions. In the midst of the albums impressive inventiveness, I probably would have liked to have uncovered and discovered a warm melodic heart, beating or lurking beneath the squeals of twisted guitars, atmospheric effects and strident rhythms.
The album begins forcefully with Deep Ocean. Its opening section has a gruff edge and combines an insistent riff with a multi-faceted attack upon the senses where all the players step up to the plate to combine forces in a highly charged and purposeful manner. When it all comes together, as during Deep Ocean and in the moody and equally evocative Take A Walk, which is somewhat reminiscent of the style of mid 70s King Crimson, the results are mesmerising. This piece clasps the senses tightly. The sound quality is magnificent. It contains bulging bass lines, rhythmic guitar patterns, snappy drums and teases with a whiff of the unexpected.
Overall, The Sound Of The Earth is a fine example of freely structured, yet highly sophisticated and intricate progressive jazz fusion, played with panache and consummate skill. These elements intertwine and combine to ensure that much of the album is often utterly compelling.
What more could anybody wish for?
Whilst checking out The Sound Of The Earth, you may even find yourself so captivated, that you choose to ignore a thought that seeps into your mind, or a shout uttered from the darkened corner of the room.
“Anybody want to hear Pet Sounds? Let’s have a sing along tune?”
Well, wouldn’t that be nice!