EFA 1996 / Gonzo 2013
Bass maestro goes for broke and picks up the pieces to make a curious whole.
A stalwart of BRAND X, Percy Jones’ supple bass lines have always been adventurous and natural in any unorthodox setting. The more surprising, then, feels this, his first true solo outing – 1990’s “Propeller Music” was an ensemble effort – which reflects the veteran’s dalliance with synthesizers and drum machines. His five-string beast slithers around plastic sounds – sometimes in weird, world-music-inspired way, like in “The Lie”; sometimes in a highly structured, classical manner as in “Symphony In F Major” by Thomas Arne, the composer of “Rule, Britannia!” – and ties together their varied rhythmic patterns.
They may pogo on the fusion floor in “Tunnels” but turn hypnotic in the title track with its tribal dance and urban edge, otherworldly vocals passing anxious melancholy to the cinematic 23-minute panorama of “Barrio” where bass crawls and roars and hints at Duke’s “Caravan.” Still, it’s in the romantic mode of “Slick,” glossy with glissandos, and the infectious reggae inflections of “Thin Line” that the music hits all the right spots, dwspite their disco moments. It takes repeated spins to get under all of the album’s layers, yet once these are revealed, there are no catastrophic consequences but a nice trip beyond the pale.