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4 stars Well it's difficult to set this recent album (dated March 2005) against the previous music background of Niacin: I remember their first debut work, where the style was compared to a kind of "typical fusion genre", combined with the music of E.L.P.; but for example in their following albums you could find echoes of Brand X and Weather Report, mixed with a style of their own, which is strange!!However, coming to "Organik", this is the return of Billy Sheehan with his three-piece band , supported by John Novello at the Hammond and the Piano, and Dennis Chambers on drums, as usual...Billy is the real superstar here, as its music touch (reminding us of the rhytmical section carried out by Weather Report) is characterized by one of the best music patterns ever composed !!The track entitled " Barbarian @ The Gate" is the typical example of his virtuosity, being well represented by his stunning pattern, every four notes per beat,being also enriched with his powerful riff!!Instead the piano solo performed by Mr Novello within the second track "Nemesis" is combined into the whole organ performance, in the middle-stream. Naturally it's stunning from the artistic point of view, being almost equal to the invention by Sheehan at the bass line inside "Blisterine",which is varied by means of sporadic " fill in" and- at the end -it's the most "accessible" sample of such "Billy Sheehan's grandeur"!!

Talking about "King Kong", the recording uses an "hall or room" effect, which is very interesting and unusual too, regarding of the fusion music genre; but the most complex track is performed in the midlle of the album and it's entitled "Hair Of The Dog":for me it's so busy- in their research of new and "diverse" harmonic solutions- so that it could represent their best effort within "Organik", even though for instance the tune "No Shame" is much better produced from the point of view of its mixing and the quality sound as well...then I like to remark the importance of "Repeat Offender", the second bonus track, characterized by the "expanding" mood created by the bass guitar, which sometimes dissolves,considering also its unforgettable intro, creating a certain "suspence".But coming back to the other remarkable tracks, such as "Stumble On The Truth", " Clean House" (the first bous track) and "Club Soda", you can listen to a great keyboard oriented Trio, with their occasionally played slap bass tunes, busy and "circular" harmonic lines, well aligned with the rest of the album... at the end "Organik" is worth checking out at least, despite of being closer to such jazz fusion genre, more than any other progressive fusion style; but it's a question of tastes,obviously: anyhow, for a little while forget the label "Prog" and be happy!!

Report this review (#41818)
Posted Saturday, August 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars An astonishingly good record from one of the premier fusion trios of our time, 'Organik' rocks as hard as it impresses. John Novello's gritty Hammond organ takes the lead with dizzying lines of church-rock and bluesy gospel fire. Backing him up on bass is the tapping ex-metal god Billy Sheehan and on skins is Dennis Chambers, maybe the finest drummer currently in jazz rock. Full of mind-boggling rhythms, jagged counterpoint, confounding grooves, and a deft conjoining of modern jazz, R&B, hard rock, Bach-isms and classic progressive fusion, Chambers, Novello & Sheehan deliver the goods on what is their most powerful and accomplished studio work.

From the bumblebee kinetics of the opening 'Barbarian at the Gate' we know we're in for a special ride and in good hands as the band punches us into a stupor with lighting moves and tumbling action, stops on a dime and then explodes again. 'Nemesis' grooves right into place and builds into a jam to die for, each player giving more than their all and playing as if they had an hour before the world came crashing down around them, a feeling maintained for 'Blisterine', a title that speaks for itself ('I've got blisters on me fingers!!'). The easier, jazz club sounds of 'King Kong' provide a nice rest while still bubbling away, resurrecting the Hammond sounds of the great Jimmy Smith with joy and some cool improv. The semi-tango 'Super Grande' becomes a hardrocker with swells of organ, 'Magnetic Mood' drags a bit but is saved by a speedy rollercoaster mid-section, and 'Hair of the Dog' is a classy fusion bopper reminding of Chambers' other group CAB with some nice modern jazz and bottomy bass. '4`5 3' is a fascinating slice of fugue-rock battered by rhythm`n blues and angular twists and turns, while cuts like 'Club Soda' and 'No Shame' let in some funk but never enough to spoil this jazzical feast. The album closes with the rich and pretty 'Footprints in the Sand'. Niacin (named for vitamin B3, also the type of organ used) is a true unit; all three members at once leading and following, always giving but never hogging, forward moving, not to be denied. One of the best releases of 2005. Man, what a band.

Report this review (#121461)
Posted Thursday, May 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars If you want funky instrumental jazz fusion, it's hard to find anything that is as solid as this release!

11 tracks make up this record (13 if you're lucky enough to have the bonus tracks), and every single track is well-composed and features the combination of Novello's groovy Hammond sounds, Chambers's impeccable jazzy drumming, and Sheehan's driving bass work. The trio manages to craft a very solid instrumental work, which each song working together as a whole album and also strongly on their own.

The album runs to about 62 minutes, so if you're not in a jazzy mood, they can grow monotonous towards in the end in one sitting; but that's based purely on how much you are into instrumental and jazz music. Also, because of the nature of the music, compositions, and length, this sometimes feels like a collection of really good songs, rather than one cohesive album that can be split up. Nonetheless, it is hard to find any other faults with this album, and that's just nitpicky.

It is unique, well-written, and definitely full of jazz and prog crunchiness. Check this out if you want to hear some fusion!

Report this review (#192232)
Posted Sunday, December 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars ORGANIK is another breathtaking demonstration of the outstanding qualities of the 3 musicicns which compose this fabulous trio of virtuosos-NOVELLO-CHAMBERS and SHEEHAN!This new album doesn't bring nothing special compared to the previous ones-all are stellar and amazingly impressive,so this album doesn't have any surprise-you get what you expect,that;s for sure!It's a tornado of rhythms in the most spectacular way possible!I can imagine that for guys which intent to start learning and practicing an instrument,when they make a first audition of no matter what NIACIN albums,they will cut their fingers off!Here comes the natural gift of NOVELLO,CHAMBERS and SHEEHAN,but also the prove that musicianship and technical skills atone atomic level is the fruit of hardworking musical practice developed in years!It's unbelieveble how only 3 musicians and without the help of any guitar can sound sometimes so aggressive and complete to admit that we don't even need the presence of a guitar!Some really crypted songs like KING KONG or HAIR OF THE DOG are pure demonstration of unbelieveble musicianship ,but the rest are more song orientated!In this genre,-BASS-DRUMS and KEYS we think ,of course to the giants EMERSON-LAKE AND PALMER and BARBARIANS @ THE GATE is a tribute to the legendary trio,and we can make also comparaisons with Johansson Brothers with Jonas Hellborg-the album E is fabulous,and NIACIN come with a more modern touch,including mostly funk elements but the basic is definitelly fusion music!It's difficult to say which musician is making the biggest impression,all are equals in their fantastic musical skills,so all I can say is that ,at a certain level NIACIN is music only for musicians!In fact,they don't have anything to prove anymore,NIACIN is only a bunch of good friends,which,from time to time,meet each other and!The final result is each time impressive. 5 LOGICAL STARS for another killer instrumental fusion album made by 3 giants of today's music!
Report this review (#256898)
Posted Saturday, December 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you've never heard of this group before, trust me: grab a hundred bucks out of the drawer where you hide your 25-year-old First Communion money, run out of the house and just buy their whole catalog. They're that good!

Niacin (vitamin B3, Hammond B-3 organ - get it?) is the "unknown" John Novello on keyboards (primarily the B-3, but also piano and some synths), Buffalo's own Billy Sheehan on electric bass guitar, and the peerless Dennis Chambers on drums. They combine classic rock B-3 atmospheres with lead guitar-like bass virtuosity, and unreal jazz/rock drumming that drives and grooves and impresses all over.

To my ears, "Organik" is the most progressive sounding of their five studio cds up to this point, and sort of follows a progression (if you will) that started with their last cd "Time Crunch", in which they covered Crimson's "Red" and Jan Hammer's "Blue Wind". Certainly from their very first eponymous album, they've had a sound that is frequently compared to "an instumental jazzy ELP", so the transition towards more prog rock/jazz fusion is not a big stretch. (The fact that they've been on the Magna Carta label for the last few cds has probably influenced that transition.)

This is a GREAT album with absolutely no low spots. And even though the personnel and instruments (mostly) remain the same, every album by this group is different. I never feel like "O.K., I've got enough of this Niacin stuff now." Where their first couple of cds were more eclectic and sometimes funkier, "Deep" was more bluesy, and the last two are more prog/jazz with a greater variety of keyboard sounds (but still predominantly B-3).

The compositions continue to impress and excite, the production is excellent, and the playing (and interplay among musicians) is just so extraordinary - each member of the group sure sounds like they're 100% committed to this project on every track. Personal favorites after a few listens are "Blisterine" (infectious bass line), "Stumble on the Truth" and "Clean House". About halfway through "Club Soda", there are some background wordless vocals that make that a cool song too.

I love this band. Saw them live about 15 years ago - they're all friendly, down-to-earth maestros. So, take your vitamins...and buy this highly recommended cd.

Report this review (#2441855)
Posted Thursday, August 27, 2020 | Review Permalink

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