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Jam It! - Following The Unknown CD (album) cover

FOLLOWING THE UNKNOWN

Jam It!

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.75 | 19 ratings

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BrufordFreak
5 stars Unusually well-produced jazz fusion from Russia. Though Russia is supposedly cursed with a lack of attention (or care) for rhythmicity, the drummer here, Alexey Vostrikov is quite steady, disciplined, and creative. His supposed influence from Mike Portnoy has rubbed off well. For me, however, the centerpiece of this quartet of tightly matched musicians is guitarist Konstantin Illin. His technical skill is enhanced by his creative sensibilities, allowing him to sound like some kind of cross between blues legend Luther Allison and jazz legend Allan Holdsworth. Bassist Dmitry Medvinsky and keyboardist Roman Savelyev play excellent roles in support of the machinations of the two "leads" in this band. All in all, the music and composing are very, very solid--and the songs are performed very tightly. Though some reviewers have noted the metal/Dream Theater or the 80s King Crimson influences to this music, I am not as convinced--though song 5. "Avalanche" does possess many of the shifts and angularities and rhythmic guitar and drum interplay one might expect from those kinds of influences. The presence of a strongly independent melodic sense throughout takes me out of DT-KC territory. Even the chord progressions--often quite fast and complex--are surprisingly melodic. The music produced by these guys stands on its own; they are their own force, not an imitator or clone of someone else.

1. "Following The Unknown" (10:10) opens with a 1970/80s familiarity and simplicity, but then a volume- and twang-bar-treated electric guitar proceeds to take us deep into guitar heaven. What a solo Konstantin unleashes for over a minute! Then around 2:15 things shift--they slow down to give the rhythmtist a chance to shine (though no real soloing--this seems to be Alexey's way: to surprise and express in his syncopated, intuitive and creative percussion-scapes). by the 4:30 mark the band has played around, woven something together, before a little axe solo and a wonderful NIL-like section unfolds. I'm also thinking "Fromuz" with this one. The melodic flow of this one doesn't quite make sense to me but I can certainly appreciate the 'theory' behind the compositional flow. Nice introduction but nothing mind-blowing (except for the opening guitar solo). (8/10)

2. "Sea Breeze" (7:16) continues to put on display the band's complex and tight tempo and chordal changes-- but, though impressive, this is nothing so very new or exciting. Yet. (8/10)

3. "Through The Forest" (6:30) opens a bit like a CORVUS STONE song, rockin' bluesy with the COLIN TENCH guitar sound. It goes through a few shifts over the simple bass line and stumbling drum line. This is, for me, the "breakout song" in which the band shows some of its uniqeness. There are interesting tempo and key shifts, interesting keyboard choices and passages, and frequent melody shifts as well. The duplicated keyboard-guitar riffs in the fifth minute are awesome--and they're followed immediately by some awesome power chords before a piano-based section takes over. Soon bass and drums kick up a groove over which the guitar and piano rip. Awesome song! My third favorite on the album. (9/10)

4. "Mountain Of Solitude" (9:33) is the first song in which I feel as if the band members have set up a goal or study of an idea--as if they are practicing some concept from music theory. A relatively slow tempo song, the band amps up the volume around the 3:45 mark--with Konstantin's guitar, of course, taking the lead--but not for long, as the song quickly returns to 'tude mode though with increasingly heaviness--building toward a guitar harmonics bridge at the five minute mark that precedes another classic bluesy pitch-bending and chord-interspersed guitar solo. Stevie Ray would be proud! I love the collective control and discipline exhibited in this one. Alexey is awesome in the background! I'd love to see him and Gavin HARRISON or Vinny COLAIUTA trade punches! (9/10)

5. "Avalanche" (7:24) opens with an Alexey solo establishing the mixed-meter tempo. The rest of the band soon arrive and eventually establish some nice, complex melodies through chordal progression and instrumental interplay. Really interesting! Konstantin almost gets unleashed a couple of times until the fourth minute when tempo and mood downshift to something very pretty and simple--but not for long! A heavier expression of this same slowed down section establishes itself before alternating back and forth with the pretty section. But then, surprise, some awesome djenty guitar and bass open the door for some odd drum soloing by Alexey. Konstatin's guitar soon tries to take the lead but Alexey seems to fight him for it! Awesome! Alexey is going crazy as the band launches a new almost RPI-like section up to the end. Great song! (9/10)

6. "Into The Mist" (5:07) opens as a kind of gentle chordal and rhythmic etude. By the time the song gels into its second round of the study after the first "chorus" their is some significant and beautiful development. Starting at the 2:15 mark the song begins to amp up with some amazing bass and guitar play (as Alexey lays back). When Konstantin hits some amazing notes at the end of the fourth minute the ''tude' feels as if it is building, gradually filling all of the "empty" space that the opening section had displayed to the point that it is very full, but not too busy or loud by the end. It all works wonderfully! A top three song for me. (10/10)

7. "Random Name Hero" (12:22) This is the song whose surprising chord progressions are surprisingly melodic--even replete with delightful Asian tendencies. A true West-meets-East contrivance. I love it! It starts out rather mundanely but by the second minute unfolds into a wonderfully entertaining and engaging song. By the six and seventh minutes enough interplay has been displayed to allow the individuals to go on to some nice soli--bass, keys, and awesome classic rock-like blues guitar. Roman's keyboard support throughout this one is, I have to admit, quite extraordinary. And Alexey's military-founded rhythmics are, of course, in a league all their own. Wow! Another top three song. (10/10)

An incredibly tight display of teamwork with many usually brief displays of individual brilliance (most often by the guitarist and drummer), JAM IT! is definitely one of the surprise bands and albums of 2015. So glad our vigilant Russian spy Nikolaj keeps me informed as to the goings-on on the Russian front!

In my opinion this is a masterpiece of progressive rock (jazz fusion). This album is DEFINITELY highly recommended--it would be an excellent addition to any prog music lover's album collection!

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |

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