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Jean-Luc Ponty - Enigmatic Ocean CD (album) cover

ENIGMATIC OCEAN

Jean-Luc Ponty

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.26 | 210 ratings

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Flucktrot
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Enigmatic Ocean seems a happy merging between jazz fusion, disco, and funk. This is all catchy, upbeat, and entertaining stuff, but it all sounds a bit the same, and as this was released in 1977, I don't hear much in the way of progressing from what has been done before. That's not as much of a downside as it may seem, because Ponty and company don't seem to be possessed by the need for the often pompous, silly, and spastic previous contributions to the genre: these guys just seem to enjoy laying down a nice groove and taking it from there.

Overture/Trans-love Express, Mirage. A foot-tapping, catchy set of opening songs, these numbers provide a nice glimpse of what is to come: infectious rhythms (though not terribly original), lots of violin (certainly well-played), and some sporadic blasts of guitar and synthesizer to spice things up.

Enigmatic Ocean (I-IV). The opening and closing segments are almost identical, playing the catchy main theme, though both seem to serve as conduits for the middle sections. Part II really kicks things up (almost to Mahavishnu Orchestra territory) in a good way: everyone is firing on all cylinders, though spectial mention goes to Smith's inspired drumming and some blistering work by Holdsworth. Part III dies down for a funky groove that works nicely, and again Holdsworth steals the show. Now I know what all the fuss regarding his abilities is about!

Nostalgic Lady. This is a short break between the extended pieces, but certainly not to be forgotten. Holdsworth and Ponty work back and forth between gorgeous guitar/violin harmonies and back-and-forth soloing.

The Struggle of the Turtle to the Sea (I-III). Probably the proggiest moments of the album are found here, though they don't stray far from the basic template. Zavod and Armstrong (synths and bass, respectively) get a bit more of a workout here, but by now there is a bit of same-ness to the music. This piece isn't inferior to the rest of the album, but it also adds little to what has been done before.

All in all, this is nice music, and worth your money. It's great to put on for company or while attending to work or chores, and it also has a very well-produced, full sound. The downside is a lack of creativity and originality, which is why four stars for me seems to be the upper limit for Enigmatic Ocean.

Flucktrot | 4/5 |

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