Mark Murdock 2015
Stellar approximations from fusion-flaunting drummer and his intrepid crew of rock-solid savants.
From the moment Mark Murdock pulled into a prog orbit, first with Peter Banks from YES and then with the BRAND X alumni, there was no turning back for the American drummer, but it was with this band that he reached the point of no return. Based in Japan now, Murdock’s latter-day journey has been one of fun – including the puns which marry “symbolic” to the metal part of his sonic palette when it comes to the ensemble’s name, and the old synthesizer’s brand to the night sky in the title of “Trip To Alpha Syntauri” – although the scientific slant of Mark’s music makes it all look serious.
It is so in songs, voiced by Dave Juteau, “Falling Off The Map” unfolding a Mellotron-laced surrealistic swirl of the “Strawberry Fields” kind over the orchestral tapestry, while electric violin gives an out-there edge to “The Sun In The Night (The Days Will Last Longer)” whose vista has an Oriental hue to it. Yet the tension set from “Magnificent Works” on, once Percy Jones’ bass resolves its pulse into elastic lines and John Goodsall’s guitar embroiders them with a filigree funk, is rather deceptive, and not for nothing the snare sound on there is deliberately rough as if destined to anchor the flight to the ground.
Such an umbilical cord, sitar-kissed and vibrant, keeps together “Gravitational Pull Into Śūnyatā” that floats in and out of focus and shows its chamber fringe before the title track sends a deep echo into a scintillating soundscape. Growing in scope dynamically and harmonically, the melodious space welcomes in Mark’s son Preston Murdock’s six-string solos to add wildness to the reggae-ragged groove of “Fictional Works” which is punctured with heavy beat and serrated riffs, whereas “The Gate Of Winter’s Past” takes its glacial promise on an AOR-colored interstellar journey to get high on a jazz light. Bottom-end shattered, only sky’s the limit to this engaging, adventurous, unpredictable flight of fancy: never tiresome, it has to be continued.