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Bruford Levin Upper Extremities - Bruford Levin Upper Extremities CD (album) cover


Bruford Levin Upper Extremities


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.95 | 73 ratings

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4 stars Prog Rock is both blessed and cursed when it comes to innovative and challenging music. It is fertile soil for change and expansion, yet difficult for artists to continually create something unique in such a fruitful movement. But this is what makes progressive music - rock in particular - special and what keeps us all coming back for more, high on anticipation, eager for the possibilities of something new.

Luckily for us, Bill Bruford and Tony Levin's project from 1999 delivers the goods and scrapes open like nails on a chalkboard with 'Cerulean Sea', immediately putting us in their world of elaborate arrhythmias and simple, focused lines on top. Levin of course handles all basses and the trusty Stick, guitarist David Torn also did loops and an array of noises he gives names (like 'brokenbird', 'noir loops', 'guitar sphere', 'hysterium', and 'light-industry dementia'), Chris Botti plays trumpet, and Bruford's percussives are as ridiculous and confident as ever. This first cut is a model of the quartet's careful balance between improvisation and precise undertaking, and shows shades of Miles Davis' restrained power. Brash counterbeats irritate Levin's wobbling, Torn's nervous rockingchair blurtings laced throughout. Some urban jazz kicks in for 'Original Sin' with crazed guitar-trumpet exchanges, and a candid discussion between Bruford and mates introduces 'Etude Revisited', a drone with horn and a bit of crunchy guitar. The distant sounds of the sea wash against 'A Palace of Pearls' built up with Bruford's electronic percussion, heavy electric jazz beats up on 'Fin de Siecle', and the deep tones of a 'Drum Bass' opens the Kashmir-like 'Cracking the Midnight Glass' and its deceptive timing. The Stick shows its versitility in 'Cobalt Canyons' while the spirit of Robert Fripp visits, and features loud but controlled chaos, finishing things with the clunky 'President's Day'.

The record has some problems with continuity and is far from perfect, but it reeks of a project well worth your time and should especially appeal to lovers of avant jazz-rock excursions. As well, the 1998 Papa Bear release comes in a colorful 3-way gatefold with a booklet.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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