21 April 2019 (released)
25 April 2019
Joan Torres continues to eschew the conventions of his ilk on the brazen new album Revolution. The bassist bandleader and his All Is Fused ensemble take their progressive jazz chops and set them ablaze, opening themselves up to certain rock n roll devices that would normally be shunned by the exclusionary purists that can often have a stranglehold on the genre. The guitars indulge in distortion and other spacey effects and the band actually gets angry! Many emotions can be woven into the dense tapestry of a fusion ensemble's work but straight forward rage is a colour that is rarely seen as its expression is much more single-minded than the genre tends to allow. Don't misunderstand, Revolution still brings its jazzy chops in spades. Bassist bandleader Torres and his gang can still run with the best of them, bringing dizzying flurries when necessary but Torres seems to have realized that there's more to creating a great album that sticks in your memory. Revolution has passion. Not just spastic outbursts of existential confusion like so many others but a real palpable fury for injustice.
Nowhere is this relentless energy more prevalent than in the opener 'Rebellion'. After a full blown charge from the band, Torres takes off on his own with a driving, frenetic bass riff. The guitar catches Torres' wave and rides it with echoing distorted passages, a nod to the psychedelic rock history of their hometown San Fransisco. All Is Fused take us on a technicolour joyride before descending back into the grinding madness of the opening riff. A giant swirling whirlpool of wailing sax and ever sinking cacophony brings home the chaos and upheaval necessary for a successful resistance. 'Rebellion' is visceral and gives itself to defiant abandon. Much more Mars Volta than Metheny.
The patient build of 'Moving Mountain' allows Torres to experiment with all the harmonic quirks of his instrument, slowly gathering a movement like the small stones that start an avalanche. It's this kind of textural playing that gives the album a range, bridging it into the realm of soundtrack. Midway through the track, we are finally greeted with the other voices most notably a warm flourishing solo of gorgeous electric piano. 'Loss' is a calm reflective respite. Warm, wistful strings back Torres' evocative fretless bass. A sombre yet loving reflection on those lost along the way. The riff from 'Barriers' repeats in on itself like banging your head against the wall and the frenzy of Fernando Garcia's drums playing off guest vocalist Elana Hedrych's siren calls all makes for a moving piece of frustrated energy.
Revolution is a brilliant outlier of the genre. Replete with virtuosic flights on par with any of the greats yet despite that, not overly self-indulgent. There is a deep consideration of the textural elements of sonic creation that makes this so much more than just a jazz fusion record. For those who love when rock bands delve into the jazz world, this is your trip further down the rabbit hole.