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WASA EXPRESS

Wasa Express

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

2.84 | 11 ratings

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2 stars WASUP?

A very average jazz-funk-rock album, with no obvious connections to Prog Rock, being almost completely devoid of improvisation or extended and varied compositions, or even dynamic textural changes. The playing is as good as you'd expect from seasoned session musicians (I don't know if that's what they were, it's just what they sound like), and the production is surprisingly rich for 1977, bringing out a lot of timbral nuances in the instruments.

January Man seems to take a long time to kick in - everything is well played and the composition is reasonable - but there are no surprises, just the standard sort of stuff you'd expect from about 5 years earlier. Once it does get into a groove, it's very simple fayre - a keyboard jam over a single chord, and no progression of the music, just a single sound-sphere that isn't so much explored as laboured to death. And it's the best track on the album.

Son of a Peach is more of the same - a simple jam led this time by the lead guitar, but this time, over two chords. These are simple chords laden with minor 6ths, with tinkly keyboard layers that create a nice atmosphere similar to that often heard on hold music loops. The guitar playing is good, with flavours of Steve Hillage lite here and there, and precision that lends a slightly over- produced feel to the music. At no point in time do you get the feeling that the capable musicians are pushing the envelope of exploring possibilites, rather laying down some tried and tested formulae.

Masseur ups the tempo, and features some cool synchronised runs between the guitar and keyboard, and a very dextrous bass line. Unfortunately, the guitarist gets trapped into repetitive loops, and the whole shebang gets repeated - sadly, there seems to be no room for improvisiation in this tight composition, that ends up feeling repetitive... didn't I just say that? :o)

Doing the Kopraal is in disco-funk territory, and shares the same issues as Jan Akkerman's 3rd album - in an elevator or supermarket, this might be fine, but it doesn't hold much interest for the progressive music enthusiast. It's kinda nice, and swings well, and might even go down well on one of those School Days disco nights - if that's the sort of thing you dig.

Woog Boog, then comes as a bit of a surprise, being in 12-bar boogie-woogie territory with the cool twist of some tasty and speedy licks from guitar and synchronised bass. Nothing you haven't heard before - most of the rock licks stemming from the Gary Moore/Michael Schenker school of thought, with maybe flavours of Steve Morse.

The rock theme is continued in the embarrassing Cadillac. Sounds like the guys had fun making it, but it offers nothing of taste, just a horrible 12-bar mess. The guitar solo is the nearest I've heard so far to improvisation - but it sounds like all the instrumentalists switched instruments, and the drummer got landed with the guitar, the vocalist with the drums, and the roadies got to do the vocals. Nastier than nasty - don't say you haven't been warned!

Then we switch back to the jazz-rock we started out with. New Tuna is a kind of reprise of January Man, with some of the chicken-pickin' of Doing the Kopraal, and the two chord jam of Son of a Peach. Some good playing, but decided absence of compositional ideas until the slow section at 3:36, in which a tinkly electric piano sound leads us through some reasonable but slightly dull atmospherics towards a messy pentatonic bass solo, and rounding off with a tedious drum solo.

As for the next 3 tracks, Brother Wet is another jazz funk number in a similar vein; Mr Curry is probably the most interesting track on the album, with angular strides and contrasts in texture that are altogether too jaunty for my tastes in places, and a calm ambient section that's not at all unexpected; and Adventure, which is possibly the least adventurous piece I've heard so far.

Albums like this are 10-a-penny, and this certainly isn't the worst I've heard of this kind of thing - but it's hard to see it being of interest to anyone except someone that wants to find out what jazz-funk-rock sounds like, and enjoys fast, precision, pentatonic jams with oodles of self-indulgence.

Collectors/fans only.

Certif1ed | 2/5 |

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