Introducing his ensemble’s concert sound to studio environment, Austrian master of six-string fusion fantasy hits the chord of raw rapture.
Gerald Gradwohl’s name might be familiar to Edgar Froese‘s fans but the guitarist’s resume is long enough to surpass progressive rock notions and comprise a number of solo albums – yet “Episode 6” which features his fellow musicians, who have worked with the Eisenstadt resident for some time, is the first record credited to the group. Rather logical, given the foursome’s intricate interplay was road-tested and proved their worth as a unit. The tour experience lies at the core of what’s on offer here: the ensemble wanted to get rid of usual studio polish and perform as if they were on stage.
And as if to state his agenda from the record’s onset, GG starts this suite with a one-minute sonic raid of “Viking” – ramping up a sludgy riff and laying down an angular, angry solo before it’s replaced by heavy funk of “Let’s Talk” where Jojo Lackner’s bulging bass and Thomas Kugi’s simmering sax aid and abet guitar wigouts only to steal focus and then pass the effervescent improv around. But Harald Tanschek’s drums direct the groove that will drive “K-Log” toward dance-trance elegy and hefty delight, where occasional unison, constant mischief and sophisticated create first a medieval vista and then a futuristic panorama, letting every instrument rise and shine.
So while there’s a cool-jazz-like, blues-tinged melancholy in the loungey lines of “Longing For Home” to lull the listener into deceptive comfort, and “The Essence Of Time” sees the rhythm section add a sensual, Latin-tinctured layer to this array of rippling melodies for Gradwohl to unfold a silky lace all over the piece, yet “Jabo” provides a vast platform for four strings to reign and rumble and for the brass to blind romantic souls. With the vibrant “What’s On Your Mind?” picking up at the point that saw “Are You Experienced?” leave off, the quartet seem to resort to classic idiom only to take it across the rainbow bridge, but “Positive Grid” brings the drift to a finale in a subdued fashion.
If that’s a sign of fatigue, it makes “Episode 6” insanely human.