Radius Funk 2016
Liberal Bay Area band unfold picturesque vistas to let the listener’s imagination fly on.
Volatility might be this collective’s other name – only their colors never shift for the worse, at least when the group step out as a trio to harness their versatile approach to music which, while genre-pinpointable at any given moment, strives to defy categorization as a whole. Yet that’s how they roll, all preferring to be known by first name, tangled up in other projects, allowing punters to record their concerts, and sometimes expanding line-up to include a singer – not here, though, not on the trinity’s debut album whose “warts ‘n’ all” method doesn’t require any embellishment.
Yes, there’s transfixing transparency to the strum of “Mysterious Past” where spectral riffs are hidden, and a country-to-CRIMSON urgency undermining “Hypnotica” where actual rock and roll rear their head, so the groovy “Hooters” and especially “Undulation Swag” default to fusion essentials with a pinch of mischief which isn’t shy to reveal and revel in emotional depth. But “Diamond Age” crystallizes the ensemble’s method most impressively, combining virtuoso technique with sensuality, before “Picasso’s Blues Period” explores stereo panorama in a salon sort of funky fashion, and the many changes of “Frenetic Nights” encompass raw rumble and polished prog.
Still, it’s not just a deliberately jagged edge that makes “Super Jelly” rather delicious; it’s also the opener’s embracing of trad jazz values; it’s a jive which can’t be concealed under effervescent harmonies and filigree licks – and what may seem like a superficial shredding will shed its contemporary gloss to shine naturally. As a result, the flanging excitement is elevating “Downfall” in an exotic way, dissipating raga layer into scintillating splinters and a surf-like twang, and if the drums sound rough on the folk-tinctured “Sapphire Bullets” and a few other numbers, they anchor this instrumental swirl without limiting the trio’s flight of fantasy. It’s more than cinematic.