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Brand X - Masques CD (album) cover


Brand X


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.08 | 191 ratings

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3 stars Brand X's fourth album is an uneven affair. Where Moroccan Roll and Livestock had a highly individual take on fusion, this album saw them starting to settle into slick, laid back but rather anonymous jazz rock grooves. There are some flashes of inspiration, but a good half of the album is rather forgettable.

The better moments are largely down to Morris Pert, who contributes 3 compositions which account for about half of the album's playing time. Black Moon is a rather generic piece, but the lengthy Deadly Nightshade takes some interesting twists and turns and has some of the urgency of earlier recordings. John Goodsall turns in some terriffic lead guitar and Morris Pert gets busy with some highly imaginative tuned percussion. The use of marimba recalls Pierre Moerlen's Gong circa Gazeuse, and Pert and Burgi form an interesting partnership. Earthdance is full of dense, complex rhythms and at times recalls Return to Forever or post Caravanserai Santana. The title track was co-written by Percy Jones and new boy Peter Robinson, and is another interesting piece which recalls some of the quieter moments on Eno's Before and After Science (which Jones also played on). The remainder of the album is always well played and beautifully produced, and fans of Percy Jones' bass work will find much to enjoy, but there's a lot of soporific noodling padding it out.

There's enough good material (just) to make this album worth owning, but it marked the beginning of the end for Brand X. If you're new to them, try Livestock or Moroccan Roll first.

Syzygy | 3/5 |


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