Over the past two weeks Christopher “Atomic Thrasher” of Insinnerator has been sharing his thoughts on a few of his favorite albums with us. Two weeks ago he shared his favorite “Classic Thrash Albums” and last week he shared his favorite “New Wave Of Thrash Metal Albums.” Today the “Atomic Thrasher” has decided to mix things up a bit and share his thoughts on a few of his favorite “Non Thrash Albums.” Check out what he has to say below and don’t forget to check out Insinnerator!
Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays- As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls One of the most perfect albums I have ever heard. It literally changed my life, and hearing it was on a whim. At only 5 pieces, it is so full of content and comprehension that it is mind boggling. None of the pieces sound that same, but this album flows perfectly together. Each piece has it’s own feeling. The title track is an epic of three different sections, “September 15th” is a more somber mood, and “Oozark” is a fun, uplifting, fast paced song that features some of the best piano improv I have ever heard. This is still one of Pat and Lyle’s earlier recordings, but it’s easy to see why by 1981, they were already legends and were in the history books as jazz musicians. What’s great about this album is that it’s not in-your-face jazz. Yes, it’s Pat and Lyle, there are jazz sections. But listen to the end of the title track, or the counterpoint section in “It’s For You”, or their rendition of “Amazing Grace” in “Estupenda Garca”. These aren’t standard jazz sections, if they’re jazz at all. It’s, at that point, just music. Nana Vasconcelos’ voice and percussion really add to Lyle’s synth and Pat’s guitar layers. Beautiful and hypnotic, I get lost in this one every time.
The Rippingtons- Moonlighting-Sahara Let me be more specific: Moonlighting, Kilimanjaro, Tourist in Paradise, Welcome to the St. James’ Club, Curves Ahead, Weekend in Monaco, Sahara. Yeah, you read that right. It’s 7 full albums, and each one is gold. Russ Freeman, for lack of a better term (or maybe the term is just perfect), is a genius. His layering of instruments, use of percussion, and lyrical harmonies and melodies are the best I have ever heard in Synth Jazz. The Rippingtons can convey so many emotions on a single album. On “Welcome to the St. James’ Club”, you feel like you’re on a beach in Florida the entire time you listen. But then on “Curves Ahead”, you can feel the cold air in your face as you ski down some slopes in Colorado. These 7 albums encompass a great time for this style. Each had top notch musicians (Russ Freeman, Steve Reid, Mark Portmann, Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Stone, and Tony Morales becoming the “classic lineup”) that really carried the lyrical phrasing to new heights. Each had amazing soloing and improvisation skills that made each album special. If anybody read the liner notes to “Hypothermia”, you’ll see I called Maria “my True Companion”. That’s because it is my favorite Rippingtons piece. From “Sahara”, there is so much emotion in it, so many polyphonic lines going on at once. Everything just melds together to make a beautiful song with forward motion. The Rippingtons are still going strong, writing new music as I type this. Hopefully, Russ Freeman takes me up again on that guitar lesson offer. Amazing band.
Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, Paco De Lucia- Friday Night in San Fransisco After I wrote this, Paco de Lucia passed away on February 25, 2014, and I am devastated beyond comprehension. RIP to Master Lucia. Thank you for everything.
Bamboo Forest-Bamboo Forest Bamboo Forest is an amazing musical adventure in every sense of the word. A band formed by The Rippingtons’ percussion master Steve Reid, this takes an Eastern and Brazilian feel and applies it to the world of Synth Jazz. And damn, does it work. There are so many different emotions on this album that no matter what you want to hear, it’s there. “Balloon Safari” takes you on an exciting adventure above the rainforest trees, while “Dancing in the Surf” helps you visualize a relaxed ritual on an Indonesian beach. The instrumentation really shines here. Flutes and bells, two of my favorite instruments, take front and center stage. Guitars add ambiance effect, and sometimes you’re lucky to even hear a snare drum. It’s a nice and welcome change of pace when you need music with a different type of feeling. This album also really helped me hear instruments taking on different roles than they’re intended to. Rather than a saxophone sounding just like a sax, you’ll get it sounding like an animals cry within the trees. The accents on this album are so perfect. A tingsha here, and spinning disc there, it really helps grip you in, and it’s amazing these tiny instruments can wreck you so hard. If you’re looking for a fun, emotional adventure, look no further than this album. It truly is a great one.
Honorable Mentions: Andy McKee-Art of Motion, Danny Gottlieb- Whirlwind, Katy Perry-Teenage Dream, Miles Davis-Tutu, Amos Lee-ST, Road Music-Driving Beverly Hills, Jeff Kashiwa- Another Door Opens, Mahavishnu Orchestra- The Inner Flame, Joe Locke/Geoffery Keezer group- Signing, Big Daddy Kane- Long Live the Kane, Trio of Doom-ST, Andrew York- any freakin’ recording you can find.
And by the way, while talking about albums, I guess I can let everyone know what is going on with Insinnerator. If you haven’t heard, we are now a 4-piece, as we have wonderfully added “Infernal” Robert to the group. He has brought us a dynamic that is making us sound really full, and has already contributed to the song writing that is unrelated to our planned concept album. So while we will be doing the concept album, we hope that in the latter half of this year, we can introduce some new material to our set, and maybe…JUST MAYBE…do another EP to help get Robert’s feet in the ice cold water. The four of us (that is so fun to say) have to work out the details, but do expect something in 2015. We hope not to disappoint. We love you, and thank you all for reading, and for Chad here at GTA for being incredibly patient with me taking so long to do this! Cheers, dude! You’re the best!