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Antoine Fafard - Ad Perpetuum CD (album) cover


Antoine Fafard


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.29 | 41 ratings

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5 stars Nothing better than a smouldering jazz-rock release, featuring a world class bassist, the optimum drummer currently playing and a previously somewhat unknown guitarist to really warm up the autumn night. Fine then, let's get French Canadian Antoine Fafard of Space Out fame, add the majestic and incomparable Vinny Colaiuta (the list is endless but let's name Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, Sting, Joni Mitchell, Joe Satriani and even Megadeth) and finish off with Montreal axe slinger Jerry de Villiers Jr. Guests show up on keyboards and sax, as well as a cameo appearance from drummer Gary Husband who really impresses on one track. This recording must have some kind of Guinness record for most notes played, as the sheer amount is bewildering, the pace torrid at best and a whole lot of shaking going on throughout this mercurial set-list. Also interesting is that no track is longer than 5.52, yet each one jam- packed with juicy details and flurries of notes that will keep the focus within repeated future auditions. Antoine had a deadline of 3 months to compose, arrange and produce a new album, which constrained him to concentrate on the challenging prize. Because of this peculiar situation, the main core musicians all stayed within a narrow corridor of time and space, coordinating their efforts on an album scale and not only on a song level. This cohesion and devotion to the cause comes through very clearly.

"Shuffle It" wastes no time in setting the mood, the main instrumentalists welding their collective craft together: Colaiuta's pounding the measure clinically like the polyrhythmic monster that he is , Fafard looping masterfully , unafraid of traveling up and down his fret board and de Villiers flipping some delicious licks into the fire, stylistically inspired by the great Allen Holdsworth. It's a concussive, urban and flourishing arrangement, driven by purpose and as well as brute force.

Hyperactive like some long submerged Atlantean generator, "Riff & Raft" will garner rave reviews from those who enjoy stark contrasts between light and shade, emboldened by a slew of keyboard solos from Mr. Etkins, the synthesizer being slow and deliberate, burdened further by a funky slap bass from the man himself, while Jerry peels off a blistering slice of electric guitar phantasmagoria.

The highlight track here is the gargantuan "PolySeven", a totally flabbergasting slice of slick jazz-rock that stuns by its technicality, rating very high on the emotional thermometer, with explosive displays by the main three protagonists. Vinnie is just in a zone of utter rhythmic command, especially his monstrous bass drum work, Antoine scouring the sonic riverbed like some rapacious sturgeon and Jerry coloring the electric rainbows. I have not heard a drummer plays as fast and as well since legend Billy Cobham of Mahavishnu Orchestra fame. Kneeling at your shrine, man! After such a devastating tornado, a pool of relaxation is much needed and it is supplied in the form of "Same but Different", an oasis of serenity first developed by Antoine's sun-drenched bass excursions, shadowed up by a caravan of guitar exploits than rekindle fond memories of Holdsworthian marvels such as "Sand" and Vinnie emoting with some 'gentler' fills, drills and spills. Fafard also provides the classical guitar parts.

"Five Course Meal" is a sonic buffet to say the least, the electric guitar banquet clearly influenced by the legendary Andy Summers, what with those mega 'flick of the wrist' slashes that scour the arrangement but ultimately corkscrewed by a thrilling bass solo that will leave the listener gaga! Tortuous and sleazy, this is bass guitar heaven, just like vintage Percy Jones of Brand X or Tony Levin. Jaco should not be forgotten either, as Fafard is a mesmerizing chef of the highest order.

How about a drum duet, eh? Showcasing future drummer Gary Husband (who will man the kit as well as all the keys on Fafard's next opus, 2016's "Sphere") on the right channel and Vinnie on the left channel, "D-Day" is a saxophone orgy of the very best vintage, with guest JP Zanella blowing like an Omaha Beach gale storm, bullets flying, taking toll. Inspired by Vinnie being so sharp and honed, Husband bashes brilliantly.

Back to the future with the more dissonant and oblique "Eternal Loop", a sonic universe dedicated to stretching the parameters of creative jamming, leading Fafard to literally have his fingers dance all over the bass guitar in a manic callisthenic of bubbly notes , urging the crew onward to glittering heights , Gerry Etkins' keys in particular doing some intense soul searching. Vinnie is a true percussive octopus, a beastly union of Buddy Rich and the goddess Shiva, impregnable tentacles that suction cup every percussive object in sight. The guitar excursion seems to venture beyond the dark side of the moon, somewhere deep into the space beyond, invisible from Earth.

The Andy Summers-influenced "Slash One" has nothing to do with guns or roses for that matter, but rather more with taking another improvised roller coaster of delirium, loaded with eventful ideas, weird chords and dynamic expression. Jerry really takes over this arrangement with some devilish phrasings, slow, sustained and deliberate, as well as intense and perplexing. A deluge of notes on this one, at times I was laughing nervously while listening to this, a reaction borne from disbelief. Antoine does his funky thing again, a stupendous bass solo that seeks and destroys.

The final two tracks beckon the return of the much maligned saxophone which, in my mind, epitomizes the true nature of jazz, along with the fabulous Fender Rhodes e-piano. Zanella gets to take the glorious spotlight on both "The Egg" and "PreSilence" and he shines brightly. The Fafard anesthetic takes little time to excite the senses and numb any resistance, surgically altering the entire disc with superlative creativity and nasty instrumental delivery. One of the optimum fusion recordings ever, one that I plan to show to my rock drum buddies who think that only Neil can play the kit. Nope. This is undoubtedly Vinnie Colaiuta's finest hour and hence, Fafard becomes equally guilty of genius, by pure association and collaboration. Ad Perpetuum indeed.

5 Eternities

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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