This CD occupies the territory between fusion and progressive rock. However you slice it, though, this is quite a strong disc. Edo Castro plays bass, so one might expect this to be a bass heavy release. That’s not really true. Sure, the bass does shine on several pieces, but it’s more of a group thing, really. The music is the king and it seems that Castro considers himself to be one of its servants. This is killer fusion and a varied and interesting release.
Starting with the sounds of a scratched records, pretty ambient tones rise up and move “A Thread of Blue (Opening)” forward. This remains ambient throughout and serves as a nice introductory piece. Bass opens “The Gathering,” laying down some great lines of sound. Then the rest of the musicians join and we’re off into some classy killer fusion. They take this through a number of changes, landing in different moods. There is a RIO-like freeform section at one point. They drop it way down around the three and a half minute mark, too. That section has some great soloing. It definitely wanders into progressive rock like territory as this more sedate movement continues. After a return to more pure fusion, this works out into some spacey music with jazz still at its core. It wanders again towards Rock In Opposition. I can make out hints of Frank Zappa in some of the musical lines here. Sound effects are heard at the end. Sound effects start “57th Latitude” off. Then the music comes in rather tentatively and begins building out gradually. This is a much more stripped back tune and one that doesn’t change as often. It really gradually evolves more than anything else. This is one that lands pretty firmly between progressive rock and fusion to my ears. The bass work is the real star here. Personally, I think this goes on a bit long, given the lack of changes. Sneaky Pete” just oozes cool. It has a real Booker T. and the MG’s vibe. This one really brings a lot more of a rock element to the table. There is a blues element at play here. It works out later in the piece to some mellower, more stripped back soloing. Then it powers back out into some great jazz-oriented prog. I really like some of the guitar soloing that ensues later. It makes me think of Pink Floyd just a bit. It gets pretty fiery as it continues. Coming in mellow, “When the Stars Fell on You” grows gradually and organically. It stays pretty true to its origins and is more or less a slow moving jazz ballad. Mellow atmospherics open “Drifting Across the Night Sky” and build extremely slowly. It’s a couple minutes in before it really has risen up towards mellow melodic elements. I’m reminded just a little bit of a jazzy Pink Floyd. By around the four and a half minute mark, it’s managed to rise up pretty far and resembles something Jean-Luc Ponty might do. That doesn’t stay around long, though, as the cut fades down to end. Mellow, understated jazz opens “A Travel Lodge Moment” and it works out from there. We’re taken into some rather freeform territory as this continues. Still, it doesn’t build up far even then. Eventually more pure straightforward fusion takes over. A phone message (“the number you dialed has been changed…”) opens “All In.” They launch out into a smoking hot fusion jam that makes me think of both Planet X and Emerson Lake and Palmer. This isn’t extremely long, but it’s arguably the best track of the bunch. “Bent Blues” is another awesome piece of music. It wanders in the neighborhoods of pure jazz and fusion. There are some great melodic bits and the whole thing is tastefully (and appropriately given the title) “bent.” Various solos ensue during the course of this, and it’s another highlight of the disc. “As the Cherry Blossoms Fall” is extremely mellow and textural, growing out very gradually. It never goes far, remaining an interlude between more rocking elements. “ESP” is a pretty and mysterious cut that feels like it might be at home in the soundtrack to some thriller movie. It’s a short piece that doesn’t go far. It’s also very cool. Fast paced fusion that’s a bit on the crazed side opens “No Change in Sight.” It builds on that concept as it continues. Some cool soloing is heard on this thing and it makes some changes into some unexpected territory. It’s rather freeform in nature in a lot of ways. There are almost space rock elements that emerge later.
All in all, this is a great set that explores the range between fusion and progressive rock. It probably falls more on the fusion end of the equation, but that’s not a bad thing at all. Of the three discs from Edo Castro I’ve heard, this is the best one.
Evidence — Crime scene sounds start this and more mysterious musical elements are heard. This works to more mellow, but freeform fusion meets progressive rock with a lot of bass soloing. This is mellow, but covers quite a bit of territory. There are some moments that make me think of the more textural end of Yes music.
Left of Center — Mellow fusion is the order of business here. This is decidedly mainstream for a piece called “Left of Center.” This is gentle and pretty and quite an entertaining piece.
Sacred Graffiti — The title track is set in a great fusion motif. It has some spacey elements and the saxophone soloing is particularly noteworthy.
A Thread of Blue (Fine) —The closing piece is short and mellow.
Score: 4/5/5 Stars
Monika Carr — edited by Heather Savage
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