A true throwback to a classic 70s jazz-noir sound, “Top Secret Lab” presents the daring skill of Rob Susman in creating a dense, kaleidoscopic atmosphere. The arrangements contain so many intricate details as to demand multiple listens. Highly creative, the pieces harken back to Frank Zappa’s explorations of the genre, as Rob has no problem pushing the sound out further into uncharted territory. For all the experimentation, though, a soulfulness permeates every piece, helping to tie the album into this cohesive, unified whole. Volume is a must, as this living, breathing quality draws the listener into this vast array of melodies and rhythms.
Fanfare blasts off “Tastes Like Chicken.” Here, he goes right for the funk, with a slinky groove worming its way through the entirety of the piece. A subdued introduction takes hold on “This Time.” Patience is more than worth it, as the chorus of emerging horns feels luxurious, as does the spaced-out guitar work that glistens in the twilight. Pure celebration bursts out of “Erghen Diado,” allowing the piece a substantial degree of playfulness. Going for a larger canvas is the grandeur of “East Side Infirmary.” The tension of “Burrito Malo” is much more laid-back, with some rather inventive percussion keeping the thing in swing. Showing off his impeccable chops is the sheer force of “Out There.” “When A Man Loves A Woman” closes the album on a high note.
Done with tremendous care and consideration, Rob Susman shows off his bluesy chops on the poignant “Top Secret Lab.”