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Jean-Luc Ponty - Cosmic Messenger CD (album) cover


Jean-Luc Ponty


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.76 | 109 ratings

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The Owl
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 1977's Enigmatic Ocean was indeed a tough act to follow, given the improvisational and sonic brilliance of one Allan Holdsworth on guitar. So, instead of trying to replicate that disc, Ponty wisely leaned more in a rockier/funky direction for Cosmic Messenger, knowing that NOBODY could match Holdsworth's unique contributions or even get close.

What results is a collection of songs that retain a lot of the characteristics of Ponty's earlier efforts but a bit leaner and meaner sounding. Of the 2 guitarists, Peter Maunu definitely comes up the most distinct sounding with his soaring melodic bluesy rock sound. What I really enjoyed though was the huge punchy sounding rhythm section of drummer Casey Scheurrel and bassist Ralphe Armstrong (I especially loved Ralphe's huge thick growling fretless tone here, deeeeeelicious!). Allan Zavod provides all the appropriately spacey textures with a bank of synths and tosses off some VERY expressive solos, especially on Fake Paradise. Have to admit though I would've loved to hear more acoustic instruments as well to balance it out, as it was a bit synth/electronics heavy.

As for the highlights, Ethereal Mood is beautifully hypnotic with acoustic violin, electronic piano, chiming acoustic guitars, fretless bass and tablas, very beautiful haunting melody. On the funkier/rocky side, Art of Happiness, Don't Let The World Pass You By and Fake Paradise come out swinging.

The one low point for me is the ending tune Egocentric Molecules (corny title BTW!), which sounds more like a mathematical exercise more than it does music. Not one of Ponty's better compositional moments in this Owl's opinion.

Overall, a solid and enjoyable album worth having, but not groundbreaking by any stretch. After this, JLP would seem to just keep making the same record over and over again.

The Owl | 3/5 |


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