Peacock Sunrise 2023


Defying the “difficult sophomore album” formula with forceful fusion, Californian trio call on like-minded instrumentalists to rock the canyon.

This Topanga collective may seem unfashionable in terms of work rate, delivering their second platter a little more than a year after “Shiny Side Up” announced the arrival of Gayle Ellett’s ensemble to the whole wide world; more so, they don’t shy away from sharing that record’s follow-up’s space with an international array of kindred spirits who flesh out the American band’s aural front with original patterns and vignettes. It’s not a chase for famous names, though; it’s an attempt to bring in external influences in order to enhance the group’s singular stream of melodies by adding unexpected flourishes from both soloists and support players. And the results of such mutual generosity are rather impressive.

Of course, whipping up a storm from a variety of fretboards and keyboards, Ellett could cast quite a few spells alone with his cohorts, bassist Mark Cook and drummer Craig Kahn, yet it’s much interesting to hear the trio unhurriedly vie for excellence on “Guitar City” with Paul Richards’ six strings, contrasting them with fervent Minimoog, or with Ted Price’s Hammond on the frivolous “Viewer Discretion Advised” which opens this album via the tasty weave of the organ’s powerful swirl and Gayle’s muscular, albeit delicate, twang, giving way to his cosmic ivories. However, there’s also the bottom-end rumble to take care of prog passages that drive the tempo shifts behind “The Many Moods Of Morgan” where Brian Chapman’s flaunting fuzzy fantasies alongside the ripple of the leader’s Rhodes, and to bolster “It’s All San Andreas’ Fault” where Marc Ceccotti and Joee Corso’s axes purify the fusion flow before synthesizers direct the drift towards other planets. But while “Via Valencia” finds THE BLUE DOLPHINS’ Alfonso Rodenas’ licks float to the surface, “Transpacific Highway” sees BARAKA’s Issei Takami and Shin Ichikawa anchor folky and funky motifs with bluesy harmonies to elevate THE ELECTROMAGS’ otherworldly orchestration to the stratosphere until Dudley Taft’s lava-like solos meld “Splitting Hairs” to turn the sludge into molasses, and electronic runs courtesy of Ellett and MINIMUN VITAL’s Thierry Payssan color “Maximum Connection” as bright as to let the piece’s country flavor permeate the ether.

Still, although “Three Parsecs From Tucson” feels transparent in the crosshairs of Carl Weingarten and David Udell’s guitars that augment the background Gayle and Walter Whitney detail with psychedelic nuances, “Sons Of Sebastien” offers a tangible roar of Lucio Calegari and German Vergara’s heavy shredding, and if “Maria’s Lakeside Drive” flutters on the wings of Barry Cleveland’s multiple bluegrass-tinged, finger-painted, finely filigreed lines which help the trio swing in a highly cinematic manner, “Bueno Sanga” is a perfect spot for the Californians to engage Alvarez Ortega Bianchi and Jim Crawford in a lighthearted, vibrant jive. Yet it’ll require Frédéric L’Épée’s slow burn over Ellett’s strum and electric piano to fill “1960 Ocean Front Walk” with expansive sentimentality so fitting for the record’s finale – the brilliant platter’s end urging the audience to restart the cycle again and again in anticipation of the band’s next record.


December 5, 2023

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