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TUNNELS

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Tunnels biography
In the early 90's, Swiss born musician Marc Wagnon sought to create his own music project. He enlisted the help of bassist Percy Jones of BRAND X fame and created a Jazz Fusion dubbed TUNNELS. In 1994 they released their first album simply named "Tunnels". With Wagnon, himself a Berkley College of Music graduate, playing vibraphone and Percy Jones on fretless bass, Frank Katz, also of BRAND X, was picked up to provide percussion duties. Throughout their career, TUNNELS has worked with a variety of musicians to add diversity to their three piece format. At one time guitarists Van Manakas, Julien Feltin, and John Goodsall have either guested on TUNNELS' albums or played with them live. Percussionist Lance Carter guested on their self titled album, and took on full drumming duties on their album "The Art Of Living Dangerously". Violinist Mark Feldman appeared on both their live album and guested on their 2002 release "Progressivity". Recently, long time drummer Frank Katz has parted way with TUNNELS and has been replaced by John O'Reilly who appears on their 2006 album "Natural Selection". The trio creates a strikingly unique Jazz Fusion sound largely thanks to Marc Wagnon's rather unique instrument and choice of synth sounds. Rhythmically the band resembles Brand X. Not surprising considering at one point 2/3 of the band was previous members of Brand X. They're also heavily influence by Mahivishnu Orchestra, and that influence often shines through in their playing.

TUNNELS' 2004 live album, "The Art of Living Dangerously", perhaps best exhibits the bands sound. Their onstage charisma, improvisation, and spastic energy permeate through the music and into the listener's ears.

TUNNELS' should come as a pleasure to anyone seeking an innovative Jazz Fusion band. Fans of the archetypal fusion bands will not be disappointed. Marc Wagnon's organic synth sound also opens the doors to listeners who may be usually turned off by Fusion's sometimes mechanical sound.

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BlackoutBlackout
Thrill Jockey 2011
Vinyl$14.12
$31.15 (used)
Live: The Art of Living DangerouslyLive: The Art of Living Dangerously
Buckyball Records 2004
Audio CD$5.33
$4.90 (used)
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TUNNELS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

TUNNELS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.05 | 9 ratings
Tunnels
1994
3.37 | 7 ratings
Painted Rock
1998
3.77 | 15 ratings
Progressivity
2002
3.62 | 6 ratings
Natural Selection
2006

TUNNELS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Live - The Art Of Living Dangerously
2004

TUNNELS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

TUNNELS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

TUNNELS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

TUNNELS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Painted Rock by TUNNELS album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.37 | 7 ratings

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Painted Rock
Tunnels Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Swiss born Marc Wagnon moved to USA and got together with excellent bassist Percy Jones from Brand X fame and formed in mid '90s Tunnels. They have a moderate succes among jazz fusion listners with 4 albums released so far. I happed to get one of their albums and one considered their best , is the second album from 1998 named Painted rock. Well, what we have here is a solid jazz fusion album with complicated twists coming from each musician and great musicianship, they remind me a in places of Brand X manner of composing. The guitar is strong , Van Manakas done a good job, specially on first 4 pieces who are the best from the album. In the middle of the album it becomes little experimental like on Boyz in the Ud, not bad but not really for my taste. They cover almost all areas of jazz fusion world with great guitars and here and there keyboards, resulting a fine album, but I don;t think is groundbreaking, is great but not excellent. All in all, fans of the genre must take some spins and specialy this one and next one Progressivity being their best. 3 stars rounded in some parts to 3.5.

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 Tunnels  by TUNNELS album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.05 | 9 ratings

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Tunnels
Tunnels Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

4 stars Despite the band being led by electric vibes player Marc Wagnon, Tunnels seems to be dominated by Brand X alumni Percy Jones, who plays bass, of course, and drummer Frank Katz. The music, primarily because of Jones' unique, and impossible to imitate bass lines, sounds very close to classic Brand X. This isn't to say that Wagnon is a slouch on his MIDI-vibes, just that the agressive, high energy fusion is so close to that of the aforementioned fusion giants that a casual listener might mistake them.

Wagnon uses his MIDI-vibes to control synth patches, so although he often uses traditional tuned percussion sounds, many songs sound like they have traditional keyboards. And while Van Manakis is no John Goodsall on guitar, he certainly has the chops to keep up with a giant like Jones.

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 Progressivity by TUNNELS album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.77 | 15 ratings

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Progressivity
Tunnels Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

4 stars If you call an album "Progressivity" you have to deliver. And it helps if you start with someone as talented as Percy Jones on bass. Throw in Frank Katz, who played drums with Jones in the 90's version of Brand X, and spectacular vibes player Marc Wagnon and this album comes through.

With Brand X guitarist John Goodsall sitting in for three of the ten tracks, there is certainly a Brand X feeling to the album. And it does come close. They are missing the blinding fast keyboard/guitar unison riffs, and that's bad. But they are also missing Phil Collins singing, so that more than makes up for it.

The songs vary between Brand X-like fusion fiestas and less structured free jamming. And it's all good.

My only complaint is the two tracks with "prepared voice" by Sarah Pillow. The odd treatment distracts from the music, and even gets a bit annoying at times.

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 Progressivity by TUNNELS album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.77 | 15 ratings

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Progressivity
Tunnels Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars TUNNELS are a trio with Marc Wagnon on vibes, Percy Jones (BRAND X) on bass and Frank Katz on drums. We get some guest guitar from John Goodsall (BRAND X), violin from Mark Feldman (MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA) and some female vocals (Sarah Pillow).This is a band who loves and is greatly influenced by TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA and Miles Davis circa "Jack Johnson" and "Live Evil".

"Syzygy Incident" is my favourite because everything is intricate and the drums and bass are absolutely outstanding ! I love this stuff. "Wall To Wall Sunshine" is guitar led early as bass, drums and vibes fill out the sound. Violin replaces the guitar as they continue to trade off in this MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA flavoured track. "Frank's Beard" features these odd metered drum patterns as bass, vibes and violin help out.It gets pretty intense before 7 minutes. Drums only after 8 minutes. "Diabollocks" has this beat as sounds come and go. Nice. Bass a minute in. Not a lot of melody here and the vibes are prominant too. "Progressivity" has this full, rich sound with vibes over top.Violin takes a turn then the vibes are back around 3 minutes.Violin is back 4 1/2 minutes in.

"7,584,333,440 Miles Away" is a 20 1/2 minute studio jam. Intricate drumming early with bass as vibes come and go. Guitar helps out too. Check out the drumming after 2 1/2 minutes and before 5 1/2 minutes. Impressive ! The tempo does shift quite a bit.The guitar leads after 10 minutes. It gets pretty intense then it settles after 12 minutes and builds. It settles again with vibes as the guitar makes some noise. "Some Things Must Last" is a laid back tune as the violin comes and goes. "Fusionauts" has this base of drums and bass as the guitar plays over top.Vibes and guitar take turns on this one. "Orfeo's Demon" has these heavily treated female vocal expressions. Sarah is Marc's wife by the way. Intricate sounds come and go in this interesting track. "High Tea At 49th And 10th" features some more impressive drumming and jazzy bass lines.

These guys are gunslingers and they've delivered an interesting and complex recording that never gets tiring. Easily 4 stars and a must for Fusion fans.

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 Natural Selection by TUNNELS album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.62 | 6 ratings

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Natural Selection
Tunnels Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Swiss born Berkley graduated Marc Wagnon's project "Tunnels" from very beginning was based on great vibes/bass/drums interplay. No wonder - other co-founder is ex-Brand-X bassist Percy Jones, demonstarting there his excellent fretless bass abilities.

As a bit unusual fusion trio, they play great music - modern jazz fusion, with some roots, but sounding very fresh. With strong contemporary jazz element. Being in fact minimalistic trio, they sound as real full-body sounded band.

I believe most important element of their music on this albums is perfectly balanced proportions of all components. Their fusion sounds fresh, but remembering its roots, never screaming, in moments even soft, but never too safe or cheesy. You can hear plenty of electronic sounds in album's music, but at the same time bass is on the first plan, and all electronics are used very tastefully.

In whole - great contemporary fusion album.

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 Progressivity by TUNNELS album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.77 | 15 ratings

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Progressivity
Tunnels Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars Progressivity is an imposing 74 minute fusion album that covers a wide range of styles and moods. Not an easy listen as it will take time to absorb the compositions to their full extent. But it's absolutely deserving. Required listen for all lovers of Brand X and Mahavishnu. One of the best fusion albums I've heard so far.

Syzygy Incident, one of the most alluring pieces, opens the album. It is an up-tempo improvisation in a very weird key. Simply mesmerizing, I can't come up with any references really. Wall to Wall Sunshine is more traditional fusion, similar to Mahavishnu Orchestra, especially the interplay between the guitar and violins. Frank's Beard stays in Mahavishnu territory, be it that the fretless bass is very prominent and almost sounds atonal. It's another excellent composition, the ambience created is very moody, entrancing almost.

Diabollocks is a next gem in the chromatic tonalities of this band. Due to some jungle drum&bass effects and a nice melody on midi vibes (some electronic xylophone apparently) the band manages to give each track a unique identity. Upon first listen the non-melodic approach might wear you out, but this album is a grower and with each listen the number of songs that you appreciate will increase. Progressivity is made around a midi vibes solo. Again the bass and drum work is impressive, very subtle and enthralling here

After 33 minutes of dense music, the 20-minute Miles Away is not for the faint of heart, 20 minutes of abstract music, bordering on free-jazz, without melodies and only occasional accents or short solos by the soloists. Half-way through the players relax a bit and even get into something of a zeuhl mood. Most impressive piece.

55 minutes in and I'm already seeing 5 stars rising at the horizon, so everything that follows is a bonus: Some Things Must Last is more melodic. Complex as it is, it's a welcome rest point. Fusionauts is good on its own, but amidst all the excellence here I usually skip it. Orfeo's Demon adds vocals, experimental and non-melodic, and a laidback trip-hop groove: think Massive Attack goes free-fretless-bass-jazz or something similar... High Tea ends the album in due fashion with abstract sounds on a jagged rhythmic section.

Amazing album. 4.5 stars.

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 Tunnels  by TUNNELS album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.05 | 9 ratings

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Tunnels
Tunnels Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

2 stars Labeling TUNNELS as a BRAND X almost side-project would'nt be too far from reality.They were formed by Swiss musician Marc Wagnon,a former graduate of Berkley College of Music,who had already released a solo album in 1988 (called ''Shadowlines'').He was helped by BRAND X founding and long-time member bassist Percy Jones along with Van Manakas on guitars and Frank Katz on drums,also a member of BRAND X.This quartet recorded their first album ''Tunnels with Percy Jones'' in 1994 on a small label,later re-issued by Wagnon's Buckyball Label (which is what we offer here).

About the album,this is almost 100% fusion/jazz/progressive rock filled with strange sounds such as vibraphones,fretless bass played by Jones and a midi-vibes player,which support the role of keyboards handled by Wagnon himself.Musically the compositions run through fast and furious rhythms paused by sudden breaks and sometimes long midi-vibes passages.The guitars are quite jazzy with good soloing,the drum work is very complex and there are also a couple of interesting melodies in here,but the overall result is a bit uneven,as some parts of it sound too modern or ''digitalized'' and there are even a few unnecessary quiet moments with ambient-like atmospheres.So if you're after some BRAND X-like fusion with a touch of modern technologies and players,this album should easily appeal to your tastes.Personally I don't expect to hear an album filled with fillers and boring solos by such a talented company of musicians...2 stars for me...

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 Natural Selection by TUNNELS album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.62 | 6 ratings

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Natural Selection
Tunnels Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Equality 7-2521

4 stars Tunnels take on a refreshing new sound on this album. I had pretty much written off Tunnels as one of those bands who sound the same on every album, but you like the sound so you tolerate it kind of band. Luckily I'm wrong as usually with my assumptions. Their sound on Natural Selection is more diverse and rockier whereas other albums were basically straight up jazz. As often happens when bands make a sound change, this is their best album to date.

Two things really make this album successful. First, John O'Riely Jr. takes over behind the drum kit. He's hands down the best drummer the band has had. He's style is less jazzy than the others and more rock oriented. This brings an important energy that I always felt was somewhat lacking in the percussion department. The difference will strike you from the first beat. He takes all the sophistication that we love from jazz but unlike their previous drummers he really brings a rock energy into the concoction. Secondly, Wagnon focuses more on atmosphere than he does on providing melodic lines. Again, the difference is immediately noticeable. It's as if the band goes from being 2-D to 3-D. He still contributes a good bit of his fantastic lead work, but his added role really adds new depth to the music.

As mentioned before this album is much less jazzy than previous efforts of typical albums in the genre (In fact I when I hear "Io's Dream" jazz is one of the last ideas that comes to me). However, I don't want to scare off those reading these reviews for a fine Fusion album to invest in. Believe me this will certainly give you your jazz fix, but it also has more to offer than simply that. I was strongly tempted to give this 5 stars as it nearly deserves it, but the inclusion of "Green Eyes" angers me enough to bump it down. This piece is obviously a throw away. The rest of the album excretes energy and inspiration yet this track just meanders around the same theme for 5 mins without any real purpose. 4.5 stars

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 Natural Selection by TUNNELS album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.62 | 6 ratings

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Natural Selection
Tunnels Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by lor68
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Sorry for my low rating, but this time - in comparison to the impact of their best Studio album "Progressivity", I'm a bit perplexed about it!! Don't get me wrong, the product is good, the music well mixed and performed in a remarkable way (epecially regarding of their exploration concerning the sound of their synths), but the style is radically changed, as it looks like a kind of psichedelic genre, which sounds a bit strange for my ears... apart from this feature, sometimes their music is odd and very busy, but often resembling some passages of another similar band - Brand X - in their most meditative moments, and for me such important elements could be enough to make this album worth checking out at least!! This is "alternative music" and "relaxed fusion jazz" in the same time, which is very interesting at the end, so after burning this cd one more time I could give the product another half star...make your own choice anyway!!

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 Progressivity by TUNNELS album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.77 | 15 ratings

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Progressivity
Tunnels Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Equality 7-2521

3 stars TUNNELS returns to being a three piece, parting way with guitarist Van Manakas, to create Progressivity, an album very much similar to their first self-titled release. TUNNELS really fail to bring anything new to the table here. Progressivity basically serves as a slightly weaker second disc to their first album. A little expansion would have been nice, but having more material akin to that which they're already producing turns out to be some of the most original in the prog circuit and is very welcomed.

Percy Jones's influence is downplayed slightly here with Wagnon taking most of the spotlight in both writing and playing. The pieces written solely by him tend to be the strongest, especially "Syzygy Incident" and "Progressivity" which rank as the band's best material. I rank this album slightly weaker than their first two because of the overlong jam "7, 584, 333, 440 Miles Away" which leans a little bit on the directionless, even pointless side overstaying it's welcome at a generous twenty minutes.

Not being a particularly big fan of Fusion, TUNNELS have managed to blow the door open for me and served as a great springboard into jazz. Now being more knowledgeable in the genre it's still apparent that they are one of the shinning talents therein, however their first two releases manage to outshine this one, if only marginally.

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