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4 stars While not a hug fan of the Jazz genre, i felt a review of this disc in order. I stumbled across this little gem at a pal's place whose tastes run more to the Al Jarreau than to prog. Expecting a night of serious jazz, I found myself drawn to this intriguing blend of jazz, prog and rock.

I am not too familiar with OHM or Umphrey, so I can only tell what my ears heard, and not relate it to any backstory.

This album combines elements of free form jazz with melodic riffs and even sometimes sweeping stanzas to bring together an album of mixed nuts. There is something here, sure to please every ear, even if the whole disc doesn't shoehorn into any one "type" of music. Take for example 'Ramona's Car", which divides its attention between a jazz piece and a proggy Santana. 'The Sun Also Rises" is as progressive a piece of music as I've ever heard, with its long moving musical target and satisfying conclusion. As expected by it's name 'Reggaelic' inserts a gentle reggae bass riff into a nice moving progressive piece of music.

Take note that , if an element of prog is defined by musicianship, these guys fit right in. This is a tight band with interesting music and impecable timing. As a change from the usual, I recommend you get your hands on the disc 'Posthaste', posthaste.


Report this review (#702222)
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Heaping Helping of Jazz Jam Stew

Ohmphrey is a side project of Umphrey's McGee, one of the bigger bands on the jam scene in recent years, and Ohm, an LA jazz fusion trio widely regarded in guitar nerd circles. As it happens, Umphrey's main guitarist Jake Cinniger just happens to be one of those axe nerds. Ohm's Chris Poland, most famous for his run as the first lead guitarist of Megadeth, has emerged from the legions of 80's shredders as one of the few who really has the musical goods. This fact derives mainly from the fact that Poland cut his teeth not on metal but on 70's fusion such as Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Cinniger, on the other hand, is strongly rooted in metal and prog. Umphrey's frequently pulls out Metallica, Pink Floyd, and even occasionally King Crimson during their live sets.

POSTHASTE is Ohmphrey's second offering, and the outfit has fixed what I felt to be the major shortcoming of the debut album. That disc was literally just edits of two days of jamming organized into songs. The different tracks certainly had different vibes and feels, but really weren't fully realized compositions. On the sophomore effort, the songs are clearly defined, but there's still massive amounts of room for improvisation. The first three tracks in particular are more composed. The opener, "Devil's in the Details," is especially heavy and much more like the dark prog of King Crimson than fusion. I suspect from the feel that this comes from Cinniger's roots more than Poland's. Whatever the source, I was deliciously surprised when I first sampled this song as it fulfilled all my hopes, realizing the potential I'd heard in the debut. "Tom Bombadil" is more prog than fusion as well, with keyboard player Joel Cummins pulling tones straight from 1978. Track 4, "The River Runs" begins with a laid-back groove that probably most resembles what you'd expect from this combination of players, but then breaks into a nasty bridge section that again aludes to LARKS TONGUES IN ASPIC.

While this project is certainly the baby of the two guitarists, the actual sound is anything but a wank fest. We don't hear Poland shredding almost at all until at least 15 minutes into the disc. His first lead could easily be mistaken for a keyboard as his ring-modulated tone is about as far from metal guitar as you can get. His overall role here is much more as a band member than a guest soloist and the music benefits massively from this. He simply hears harmony differently than most rock players, and the result contributes greatly to the otherworldliness of this project. Cinniger, interestingly, continues to be (at least to my ear) the actual band leader here, though with a little more balance this time around. As director of the band, he's excellent. However, unlike the first disc where Cinniger seemed more comfortable and at least kept up with Poland, here his solo spots are more typical and a little less focused. Poland seems also to have shaken off some rust since he had to take a break with ear problems and his solo playing here and on the Polcat record have a renewed energy.

While Poland and Cinniger get the attention, the other three members of this band are just as tasty and blistering. Cummins gets a much bigger role this time, and he seems to be having a one-man prog revival, including a reprise of the sixteenth note run from DARK SIDE OF THE MOON's "On the Run" at one point. The rhythm section sounds like they've been playing together for decades. Kris Myers plays like he's just been let out of the barn for the spring, and lays down some slippery grooves that are quite impressive. Bassist Robertino Pagliari may simply be the best bassist you've never heard of. His leads are as interesting as any of the other player in the band, and his fretless technique is huge. Like Poland, he uses effects liberally to keep the sound varied. While Cinniger may be the leader, Pags is the anchor. During the bonus tracks of live jams, you can hear Pags choosing the grooves to center on, when it's time for a change in the sound.

What makes this so great is that despite all the players being monstrously talented in their roles, they seem to be serving a common interest rather than ever wanting to showcase themselves. These are mature musicians who are delighting in the interplay, the sound as a whole, the joy of talent manifesting itself.

I think almost anyone can enjoy this music, but it is musicians that are going to really appreciate how amazing this work is. Certainly, the more developed compositions are going to make this more appealing to prog fans in general rather than just fusion or jam band fans.

Bottom line - probably will be on my best of 2012 list.

Report this review (#722713)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars US act OHMPHREY was formed back in 2009 by members of fusion band Ohm and jam band Umphrey's McGee, and released their debut album the same year. "Posthaste" is their second full length production, and was issued by Magna Carta Records in the spring of 2012.

Instrumental jazz fusion that touches upon a good variety of expressions and plentiful of passages with improvised features is what OHMphrey provides on their second CD "Posthaste". Mostly improvising within a sketchy framework these excursions aren't void of structure, but feature ample amounts of sequences that are rather free of boundaries too. Existing fans and followers of instrumental fusion with a high degree of improvised sequences should be a key audience, and in particular those amongst the latter that enjoy music of this kind when it also incorporates details more commonly used by metal acts.

Report this review (#796833)
Posted Monday, July 30, 2012 | Review Permalink

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