Zapotec — Alpha Centuri
(Psycho-Audible PA-0001, 1998, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 1999-11-01When I first listened to this disc, I quickly categorized it as jamming space rock. The first track builds from quiet ambience to a throbbing jazzy thrash, consisting almost entirely of an every-effect-available guitar solo. That first track is misleading. The bulk of the music recorded here is tightly arranged instrumental rock on the jazzy side, reminiscent of Return to Forever’s glory days. At times it cooks like Mahavishnu or crashes like Crimson or even floats like Happy the Man (if you can imagine them as a jazz combo). The dominant sounds are Bill Curtis’s electric guitar and Anna Hubbell’s violin, though keyboardist Jeremy Cubert gets in a few good licks. Odd meters abound. Lightning unison lines are balanced by delicate acoustic passages. Curtis is a player of great technical proficiency, with a rapid picking style along the lines of John Goodsall rather than the fluidity of Allan Holdsworth. I find the only real weakness here (and it’s a small one) is the fact that the musicians supporting him, while excellent players, tend to pale a bit behind his flash. But who wouldn’t? Fans of Brand X or Mahavishnu looking for something new would do well to seek out this disc. I hope it’s the first of many by this promising band.
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