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4 stars Resistor started out as the jam-band of a couple of colleagues that went loose during the lunchbreaks. That Resistor, after the release of two excellent studio albums, now comes with a largely improvised jam album is not really something completely surprising, considering their origins.

However, the quality of the material is! It's hard to believe that 6 out of the 9 tunes on the album are complete improvisations but they are. According to the information in the booklet the 'songs' are the result of the careful editing of jam sessions that sometimes lasted more then half an hour. The result is an album that offers plenty of variation in moods, tunes and instrumentation. The emphasis in de improvisations seems to be on the interplay between the musicians instead of mindless selfindulgent soloing. Resistor manage to hold my attention for the full length of the CD.

Beside the 6 improvised tunes are also 3 composed instrumentals. They offer very nice tunefull breaks from the darker, more intense improvised work.

I am not going to say that 'The secret island band jams' is as good as the brilliant Rise or the debut. It is a completely different animal so we really should not compare. It is certainly a worthy addition to the Steve Unruh/Resistor discography.

Report this review (#440988)
Posted Saturday, April 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Invite me to your island!

A couple of years ago I was introduced to Steve Unruh's music, as a solo artist and with Resistor; both sides have left me a wonderful impression so far, that is why I keep interest in his new and most recent works. Resistor's "Rise" was an album that left me a great taste of mouth, with challenging and adventurous compositions that made me have a good time. Last year (2011) the band released their third studio album, entitled "The Secret Island Band Jams" which actually shows the secret instrumental side of Resistor. This album features nine tracks and a total time of 58 minutes.

The first track is "Voyage 7" in which we can listen to the sea waves that gives us the impression they are in the island drawn in the album's booklet (the cover art, and the CD art is beautiful, by the way), later the guitars, bass and drums enter and begin to jam and create a cool and enjoyable sound that make us imagine a story, or various stories about the people in the island, well I imagine, I don't know about you. "Picadora" is a previously composed track instead of an improvisation, it features violin, which puts a folky sound to the rockish music. The guitar work (both guitars) is wonderful during the whole track.

"Piezo Fury" has the Spanish guitar that Unruh loves, and later it adds and combines the electric one. What I love from this track is that it started softly and then little by little its intensity increased until it really explodes and creates a wonderful jam. This is one of the best passages of the whole album. "All Systems Go!" has the rockiest mood of them all, since the first notes we are taken to the 70s with the rock and roll bands. The style in the three minutes is the same, the only thing that change is the guitar riff, cool.

"Dream of the Arctic Team" is another improvisation of this quartet. The mood here is much softer than the previous track, the music is in moments peaceful, relaxing, thoughtful. Besides the conventional instruments, here they added a flute after three minutes, which produces an even more serene mood and atmosphere. The bass touches are great, the drums good and the guitars especially cool. "Santa Anna" is a longer track, a longer trip because it was also an improvisation made by The Secret Island Band. Here we can find some hints of blues rock due to the rhythm; as you can imagine, it has some highs and lows, moments where the music slows down until it practically disappears and begins to be re-built, and moments of vertiginous tunes that greatly flow, the final minutes are really intense, great.

"Quirk" is a composed song which happens to be one of the shortest here. I like it, though it is not my favorite at all; I like the inner changes, and the intercalation between guitars and violin. "Sleepytime" shares a dreamy atmosphere, a calm mood that makes me imagine it is the end of a day, the night, the moment when one has to go and rest, and what better way to do it than with that charming flute sound over guitars and drums.

The album finishes with "Double Ascent" which is the longest track, a 15-minute jam that sums up what The Secret Island Band is about. It is the best jam of the album without a doubt, full of energy, with a variety of sounds and elements that make it more dynamic. I like the drums a lot here, with much more passion (I don't know why the drummer didn't do the same in the previous tracks), the guitars as usual with great notes and riffs when required, and the bass as the perfect complement. Worth mentioning that with fifteen minutes of length, the song opens the gates for different and various changes of mood, rhythm and even style.

This is a very good album without a doubt, with a daring proposal represented in both, the composed and the improvised songs, daring also because these are vocal-less tracks. As a unit, I would say it is a great album, though I have to say I miss the adventurous sound of "Rise" which in my opinion is a much stronger album than this, though I really applaud the effort and the concept of this new baby. My final grade will be three stars.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#629790)
Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 | Review Permalink

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