Grave-dancing in the land of fusion filigree, with tears of joy and bursts of laughter.
Lately, heavy jazz-rock has become a fertile soil for a smile, but Jeff Kollman’s posse were at it long before the current crop of shred-shedding trios; it’s just this record, marking the band’s 20th anniversary, emerges a decade down the line from their previous one. Such a limbo-like stasis resulted in high energy levels and a lot of fun, because if the title track is a continuation of the guitarist’s namesake’s “Beck’s Bolero” and Tommy Bolin’s “Crazed Fandango” in terms of marrying Spanish dance – with flamenco lace and castanets here – to a metal squeal, the exquisitely loose “Sangfroid” and “Still Life” reveal much more classical approach to composition. That doesn’t mean the lack of emotional shifts on display, and one should go no further than “The Ballad Of Rick James” to feel the group’s groove.
Its riff-driven funk almost as catchy as “Super Freak” was, and “Recollection Epilogue” as confusingly cathartic as a tempo-shifting centerpiece may be, there are melodies to revel in, what with Kevin Chown’s bass broadening the streamlined vision of “Cyclops” and Shane Gaalaas’ gentle beat spicing up “The Crosses” to let a fluid twang wash over the listener. Yet “Always Remember The Love” distills these harmonies to something very romantically natural which won’t require a rhythm to bristle, and the lava-liquid”Beyond Death’s Door” offers an elegant, if still slightly gloomy, way out to dance the night away. So no mater how morbid these numbers are, they’re also utterly compelling and, yes, full of life.