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Vantomme - Vegir CD (album) cover

VEGIR

Vantomme

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.51 | 7 ratings

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BrufordFreak
3 stars Creative, sometimes aggressive, sometimes jazzy fusion from a Belgian keyboard veteran in collaboration with TONY LEVIN, MICHEL DELVILLE, and MAXIME LENSSENS.

1. "Double Down" (7:36) Long keyboard-oriented intro (long intros will turn out to be the rule here rather than the exception) as guitar wails in the background, drums establish sensitive syncopated time keeping and Tony does his Tony-stuff sliding all over the ChapmanStick fretboard. At 3:30 we seem to still be in intro mode; this must be some psychedelia bordering on free jazz, not jazz or structured rock. Interesting from the perspective of the creative performances of the individual virtuosi, but not a great or memorable song. (8/10)

2. "Equal Minds" (10:19) fairly laid-back bluesy-rock with fairly simple and straightforward instrumental performances (especially from drums, bass, and guitar). Keys get a little chance to shine, but fail to impress, in a long solo from the end of the second minute to the beginning of the sixth. Then, in the sixth minute, all song structure releases (drums stop) as synth, guitar, and bass play random anarchy. Cymbals reenter in eight minute before drum restores structure (in a cool way). This is a total shift in the song, much more interesting, playing out till the final minute when spacey entropy again sets in and rules. (8.5/10)

3. "Sizzurp" (10:45) opens with a far more interesting and engaging jazz-rock structure and more straightforward instrumental sounds. The groove established by Lenssens and Leven is quite engaging and allows Delville and Vantomme to add quite some nice stuff--until the big shift at 1:55 into heavier, more frenetic hard rock. Tony loves this, you can tell, while Delville creates noise and Ventomme goes freaky. In the fourth minute the entorpic breakdown even starts to infect and affect the drums and bass. Delville is screaming nonsense while Vantomme's organ provides the only stability. Quiet at 4:30 leads to a restabilization of Lenssens drumming while Delville shreds frenetically over the top. Tony and Dominique are cool and minimal in support, but this is really Michel's time to shine. In the eight minute things quiet down with Tony and Maxime providing the steady but guitar and keys are very loose and intermittent in their contributions. At the end of the ninth minute keys step up to provide textural fullness over Tony and Maxime's steady foundation. This is a cool section--which plays out to the song's end. Some really good stuff, some I could do without. (8.5/10)

4. "Playing Chess With Barney Rubble" (9:04) starts out a little more jazz-oriented, especially in Tony's bass play. The stop and restart at 2:30 leads into a piano-based section which is definitely more founded in jazz sounds and stylings. But then Tony and Michel come in with some rock flourishes. And then Dominque's electric piano takes over. This becomes a truly excellent weave. At the five minute mark Tony gets a little solo before Michel gets a turn. I wish I could get past my distaste for the screechy, buzz-saw-like sound that Michel Delville likes to use with his guitar--and with very little variation. Tony's bass lines are extraodinary (I'm guessing this is a ChapmanStick song--or perhaps his finger extensions)--which is good cuz its the eight minute and I've long ago tuned out the screeching guitar endlessly soloing away. When things get quite in the last minute Tony's finger-extension work becomes obvious. Some stellar parts and some that are rather straightforward electric jazz. (8.5/10)

5. "The Self Licking Ice-cream Cone" (13:08) opens up with much more of a smooth jazz feel. As Dominique's Fender Rhodes enters, it feels LONNIE LISTON SMITH or RAMSEY LEWIS-ish. Tony and Maxime's rhythm tracks are so solid! As Michel's rhythm guitar track starts to get louder I find myself annoyed because it's the same raunchy sound from all the other songs! Luckily it disappears at 4:15 and we are left with the dreamy DEODATO-JOE SAMPLE like scaled- down smooth jazz sounds. But it's all a set up for a guitar solo. Fortunately, this one is more "normal" and therefore, more tolerable. And, fortunately, the work by Tony and Maxime remains stellar. The guitar solo reaches climactic frenzy but then sustains, stays in orgasmic state for well over a minute. The creep-in of Dominique's Fender is the only consolation--leads the listener into believing that relief is on the way. Drums get an awesome solo (despite the fact that the guitar is still screaming) in the eleventh minute before relinquishing control back to the keys and a full-band meld for a final minute of enjoyable music. Again, this is so hard to rate when the song has such highs and lows. (9/10)

6. "Plutocracy" (4:38) eerie, wobbly notes mixed with industrial sounds open this one before two guitars takeover. What feels like an intro goes on for almost two minutes before drums come in and band establishes a flowing structure. electric guitar takes on the lead from a back right position--kind of Middle Eastern scales. Tony is given a solo for most of the fourth minute till the end: very keyboard-like. (8.5/10)

7. "Agent Orange" (9:46) opens as a Tony Levin solo with spacey keyboard support. At 2:48 Tony's play begins to establish a patterned structure (while still displaying godly flourishes) as the rest of the band enters and begins a slow process of gelling around him. Still, this is all Tony. Bass players take note: this is what the Supreme God of bass-playing has to show you. Once again, we are schooled! Though the structure remains a little loose and spacey (reminding me a lot of songs from STOMU YAMASHT'A's GO studio and live sessions. For some reason the sound given Tony's bass either becomes fuzzy/distorted or is being drowned out by the combination of fuzzy/distorted keyboards and guitar (9.25/10)

8. "Emmetropia" (9:00) kind of free form music--not even sure if any of the players are tuned into or aware of what the others are doing. (7/10)

9. "Odin's Wig" (1:54) angular, disconnected sound check music. (3/5)

3.5 stars; interesting free jazz noodling by four virtuosi but probably not everyone's cup of tea.

BrufordFreak | 3/5 |

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