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Bozzio Levin Stevens - Black Light Syndrome CD (album) cover

BLACK LIGHT SYNDROME

Bozzio Levin Stevens

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.80 | 96 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Terry Bozzio, Tony Levin and Steve Stevens joined forces and forged one of the most amazing jazz power trios of the late 90s: their two albums are still remembered dearly and regarded highly by a large amount of prog fans. The combo's energy and inventiveness were solidly reflected in the explosive repertoire they managed to create during their brief active time. Their debut album is jam-oriented, since it was conceived and recorded in a few days: even Levin's busy calendar didn't allow him to spend time with his momentary band mates during the pre- and post-production stages of the recording process. Now, when I purchased my copy of "Black Light Syndrome", I had the same state of mind that probably every one had at the time: Levin and Bozzio were already well-reputed musicians who had much experience in the most demanding contexts of experimental rock and jazz fusion. but what about this session man Stevens, whose CV was basically focused on arena rock and top-selling pop? Well, his wicked, fiery electric guitar playing and his genuine sensibility on acoustic guitar taught a lesson to all of us who had been bearing some kind of preconception regarding Steve. His stunning deliveries (which comprise influences by Fripp, Holdsworth and Page) work effectively as a crucial point of reference for his partner's intense rhythm anchor. When it came down to elaborating the repertoire, the trio's strategy was - except for a couple of cases - to spend time interacting through exhaustive jammings, and then let some main theme emerge and turn it into the focus around which they would perpetrate the construction of a proper track. Most of the material is built on not too frantic tempos: the moments of maximum energy usually come around as a result of the evolving moods of a main motif and/or an expansion on some particular chord change. The opening 14 ½-minute track 'The Sun Road' is a clear showcase for both the writing process and the solidness of the three musicians' constant interplaying. Languid psychedelia, hard rock and Flamenco-tinged fusion are linked fluidly in a cohesive succession, leaving room for each individual's freedom. 'Dark Corners' is the most Crimsonian number in the album, and definitely, one of the most accomplished ones: there is some somber nuance among the exciting hard rocking mood that is spread all throughout the track. Each maestro delivers a unique genius while cleverly keeping the track's overall integrity. The title track and 'Falling in Circles' are a bit less oppressive, although there is always some room for occasional fiery interludes: the latter is more uplifting than the former, due to the funky-based textures of its rhythmic structure. 'Duende' and 'Book of Hours' are the only composed elements brought to the studio rehearsal sessions. They show Stevens' interest in Flamenco fusion: even though he doesn't equal the mastery of Paco de Lucía or Al di Meola, his guitar parts are captivatingly beautiful, displaying a pleasant air of relaxing introspectiveness. A special mention goes to the Mexican-tinged ambience in the climatic closure for 'Duende'. Finally, the closure 'Chaos/Control' sends shivers up and down the listener's spice with its bombastic explosion of colours: although it's not as up-tempo as 'Falling in Circles' or the speediest passages of 'Black Light Syndrome', it certainly comprises the larger dose of sonic lunacy of the album. An incendiary closure for an extremely excellent album. 4 1/2 stars!
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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