Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Isotope - Golden Section (1975) (mp3, 320kbps)

I've been loving this record lately. Think of what Weather Report would have sounded like if, in the normal course of their work, there was a very strong guitar presence, a presence very much along the lines of John McLaughlin in the Mahavishnu era. Now, the absence of guitar in Weather Report is a big [art of what makes it so special for that era. Everybody was playing guitar. Everybody was bringing the big solos, complete with frenetic drums and complex arrangements. Weather Report was refreshing becuase everything had a more organic feel. It's eve hard to tell, at times, when a solo ends and another begins.

So, now we go back to post-Bitches Brew England. Soft Machine has set the pace for Jazz-rock on that side of the UK, but even though Isotope features a Soft Machine alum on bass, this band is firmly in the tradition of the early American fusion. What makes Isotope so special for me is the sympatico relationship between band founder Gary Boyle on guitar and keyboardist Laurence Scott. There are no turf wars being played out on dueling solos, as we hear ad nauseum on the Mahavishnu recordings. Instead, the quick, fusion-y twists and turns are carved out of a Rhodes-enriched grooviness that clearly calls to mind Mysterious Traveler-era Weather Report. In short, there is a lot of generosity flowing between the two principal soloists. The result is a very satisfying listening experience.

This recording is a compilation of live work performed in '74 and '75. The mix of improv and arrangement is what you'd expect from a fusion band of this period, but the composition and vibe is something different. These artists may have been copying their contempoaries, but don't let that stop you from enjoying something that is, at once, very familiar, yet totally different.

  1. Illusion (4:03)
  2. Rangoon Creeper (4:43)
  3. Attila (6:03)
  4. Spanish Sun (9:48)
  5. Crunch Cake (5:22)
  6. Mr. M's Picture (6:50)
  7. Frog (5:16)
  8. Attila (6:10)
  9. Spanish Sun (6:47)
  10. Lily Kong (1:36)
  11. Edorian (3:12)
  12. Golden Section (5:38)
  13. Illusion (4:04)

Personnel: Gary Boyle: guitar; Hugh Hopper: bass; Nigel Morris: drums; Laurence Scott: keyboards; Aureo de Souza: percussion (1-6).

The link is in the comments.

1 comment:

MPomy said...