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Frogg Cafe - Bateless Edge CD (album) cover

BATELESS EDGE

Frogg Cafe

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.90 | 196 ratings

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zravkapt
Special Collaborator
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars This was my first experience with this American group. Bateless Edge was one of those albums from 2010 I read a lot about and just had to check it out myself. The core of the band is made up of six individuals who play many different instruments. In addition, there are many guest musicians who play many more different instruments. I don't know what their earlier albums sound like, but the music here is a combination of Zappaesque orchestral rock, Canterbury, Avant-Prog, with some fusion and country-rock influences as well. The vocals are very American sounding; you would never mistake these guys for someone from Europe or Oz/NZ. The singing is at times similar to Phish, country-rock and even at one point, the Barenaked Ladies(!).

"Terra Sancta" starts with Indian instruments. Some phased wah-guitar leads to the full band coming in playing some Zappa-like orchestral jazz-rock. Later it becomes a vocal oriented song. More Indian instruments come in with some piano and a Zappa style guitar solo. The guitar playing starts to get more Canterbury / Fripp / McLaughlin sounding. Goes back to the vocals and then ends with some acoustic guitar. "Move Over I'm Driving" you can listen to on PA. It begins sounding like a cross between Canterbury and Zappa. Great interplay between the musicians. At one point the music stops, and just violin before other instruments come in and the music changes to different sections. Later a trumpet solo. I like the part where you hear "1,2,3,4,5" spoken across the stereo spectrum. A nice guitar solo near the end.

"Pasta Fazeuhl" is the longest song and a highlight. I wonder if the 'zeuhl' in the title was intentional. This song has a good bass sound. At first the music changes often. About 4 1/2 minutes in the music stops and there is just guitar before some electric piano, bass and military drumming. A violin then solos. Almost Canterbury sounds at this point. Then gets more avant-prog as it moves along. Maybe this song does have some Zeuhl influence. Later the track changes to some kind of Zappa/Southern rock hybrid. Then changes to a cross between Genesis and Univers Zero. it ends with a mix of Zappa and Henry Cow. Terrific song!

"Under Wuhu Son" is a 3-part suite. The first part, "In The Bright Light", opens with a lovely section, especially the violin, vibes and flute parts. Then the song goes Zappaesque. After some vocals and acoustic guitar. The 'chorus' part is very accessible modern country-rock. The second part, "Left For Dead", is more interesting. Starts off sounding like Art Zoyd or Univers Zero. Then goes into some funky prog-metal. Later on a nice mellower section with different instruments. Gets more Zappa sounding. Ends with storm sounds. Part three, "Brace Against The Fall", begins as jazzy rock. Then vocals with some snare rim hitting. Country-rock type chorus. Music stops halfway then a trumpet solo. Later a guitar solo. Nice marimba near the end.

"From The Fence" opens almost symphonic. Then a country-rock type song comes in. Some female vocals. Goes back to a more symphonic section. Changes to a section that sounds like a mix of Phish and country-rock. Later some mariachi type trumpets. "Belgium Boogie Board" begins with spacey effects before violin and brass come in. Then marimba and rhythm section. The music changes a lot. Lots of variations in style. The drumming is interesting after 4 minutes. Later the music stops and there is just cello which gets joined by brass and then a violin. Then a banjo. You hear a gong and then a gothic symphonic part with military snare rolls. After a nice section with trumpet, harpsichord and marimba. The band comes back to finish it.

A great album. I want to hear what their earlier stuff sounds like. Although this is classified as 'Jazz-Rock/Fusion', the music here is much more diverse and varied than just that label. One of the better albums I have heard from the past few years. Maybe this will be a masterpiece one day, but for now I give it a strong 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |

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