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Speed Limit - Speed Limit II CD (album) cover

SPEED LIMIT II

Speed Limit

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.47 | 7 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars SL's second album came roughly a year later than the debut, by which time the band found a major label (RCA) and changed bassist, enrolling Magma alumni Janik Top, but lost their guitarist as well (not replaced). With a stunning artwork from Sheffer himself, the group is more ambitious, even using a string section on and some intriguing vocals.

The opening track Time's Tune (a 15 minutes 4-part epic) has a real superb crescendoing start where Sheffer's winds and Bucchi's electric piano plunge into a torrid fusion of molten rock, disaggregating jazz, wild female howlings for its opening movement Breese. The band gets even hotter and quicker with run around The Block, where Coltrane's more transcendental (past 65) music is obviously the influence. The third movement heads back to the Breese mainly through the aerial vocalizing (they seem female, but none other than the core male musicians are credited with vocals), while the track goes out on a Bucchi (he wrote the whole track) piano piece. As for the JT-penned African Dance, the music is more of the Saharan kind than tropical Black Africa, and honestly I'd prefer hearing the real stuff than having SL wasting 4 minutes of precious vinyl time.

The flipside is occupied by an ambitious 20 minutes Sheffer-penned Pastoral Idyl, separated into 5 movements and using a string section, which happens to introduce the track. While the use of the string quintet is in itself adventurous, I find that Sheffer put the strings at use that well. When they intervene, they seem to weigh tons, drag their feet screechingly and often border the dissonant. The second movement Lemon Tree is a fast piano-driven improve where Sheffer and Bucchi clash forces and end up with a strong pressed lemon juice. As for the vocal section it is a weird almost opera voice. The track goes on a bit bizarrely, the whole thing remaining rather dry, borrowed and (dare I say it?) academic.

While their second album is somewhat superior to the debut, both are extremely valid jazz-rock, but not bringing much new (even counting the Pastoral Idyl) by the time of their releases. BTW, I hear the Belle label incremented the tracks with the movements rather than the tracks on their Cd mini-Lp reissue, so don't be surprised to find 10 increments where even the special Japanese insert announces only the three original ones. Despite such a strange screw-up, SL 2 is a more an accomplished album, so if interested, start with that second album.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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