Being introduced to the work of these Chicago Jazz Fusion / Progressive Rock during the submission process for our recent Progotronics compilation, brought me to a situation to make myself really happy to review their debut EP Anthropology. This record is a result of an improvisational live jam between the core trio which, you guess, includes a guitar, a bass and drums.
Anthropology’s greatest strength is without a doubt the band’s ability to capture the moment and transfer the immediacy of the recording process. The EP is made of five songs, with the center-pieces being “Interpidation” and “Persona Non Grata,” two longest songs on the record.
Anthropology opens with “AntiFragile” (a song which took the place on the Progotronics sampler) in a classic soiled variant of Jazz Rock spiced up with extensive psychedelic jam. It’s questionable here what’s more twisted. Is it the guitar soloing or the intense, or sometimes over-the-top drumming? The songs in general are without any significant reversals, the release comes as a long and uniform psychojam. Thus, even when the band goes wild and insane or lands the ground with a little bit tamed song structures, there is an omnipresent feeling of easily floating dirtiness. Or smoothness, depending from which perspective it’s observed.
There comes a surprise in the shape of “A Minor” which kicks off in a very mellow fashion, leading into some jazz noodling juxtaposed with psychedelic guitar soloing. While repetitive guitar lines keep this song within, its flow runs high and far away behind any shape of tameness, obtaining that way what could be depicted as psychedelic jazz. Who knows, it might be a case.
The massiveness of “Interpidation” presents two options for Anthropology. The first, more obvious and more reasonable option is to consider this piece as a consistent part of the EP, which it is. But, it gives away a feeling of the independence comparing to other tracks. It’s still Sons of Ra and it’s, arguably, Sons of Ra at its best. By listening to this piece, I came to the conclusion that this band clinches much better when it comes to lengthy overdriven intensity than putting themselves in chains of time limit. And “Interpidation,” as well as the closing “Persona Non Grata,” show everything but any limits, that’s why these two tracks are centerpieces of the record. It’s always expected that the longest track off of an album has most to offer, just because of its duration. But speaking of Sons of Ra, time factor doesn’t even come to your mind. You feel as a particle in a system of “chaos” at moments, sometimes you feel you lost your way, but no matter of that all you like these sound waving. And that’s what counts.
Though Anthropology has a lot to offer, it’s not everything of this record. You might think it will get you tired, but “Xenoglosia,” keeps on delivering outstanding work from the trio. Shining moments of guitarist Erik Oldman didn’t finish on the previous track. Followed by hard hitting of Marc D and greasy bass-ing of Keith Wakefield, Anthropology passes the exam with a high grade.
Cover photo by Josh Dagenais