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Brand X - Masques CD (album) cover


Brand X


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.08 | 191 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars "Masques" is the band's most accessible album yet, favoring upbeat fusion music that recalls the work of "Return to Forever" in more than a few spots. The change in sound can be traced to the changes in the lineup: keyboardist Peter Robinson (who had played with RTF's Stanley Clarke and Lenny White as well as with Pert in the short-lived Suntreader) is similar in style to Chick Corea, incorporating Latin and funk with an ear toward the spacier side of progressive rock; new drummer Chuck Burgi lays down solid riffs that favor the rock side of the jazz/rock split; and Morris Pert increases his role in the band as a songwriter and increases his percussive arsenal to include melodic instruments. Original member Robin Lumley assumes production duties, and his effect combined with Jones and Goodsall does bring "Masques" back to the sound of their first album, "Unorthodox Behaviour".

Although Jones has softened his string attack, "The Poke", "Black Moon", "Access to Data" and "The Ghost of Mayfield Lodge" move with the fluid grace of their debut's most memorable moments. John Goodsall contributes only one track, "Access to Data", highlighted by some terse and tart guitar leads, while Pert (heretofore a non-contributor) provides three, including the epic and triumphant "Deadly Nightshade" and their deepest foray into Latin fusion, "Earth Dance". As for the title track, it retains the atmospheric and Eastern feel of their last two records while providing Jones and Pert with some room to experiment.

"Masques" may well be the band's best fusion album, at least in terms of memorable melodies. Purists might argue that the absence of COLLINS and (audibly, at least) Lumley diminishes the band's achievement, but the subsequent shift in strategy (however small) does produce a fusion record as meritorious as any they've recorded.

daveconn | 4/5 |


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