When speaking about Garcia Peoples’ One Step Behind, Chris Forsyth once said that rock and roll is the new jazz, and with his latest album, Evolution Here We Come, he vigorously hammered home his point.
Joined by the likes of Tom Malach (Garcia Peoples), Bill Nace (Body/Head) and Douglas McCombs (Tortoise), as well as of course our man Ryan Jewell on drums (who else?!), Forsyth approaches rock and roll with the carefully studied approach of jazz. It has that free sense of expression and boundless experimentation that comes from jazz improvisation. In that same way, Forsyth and crew (which also includes on at least the opening track, the Arkestra legend himself, Marshall Allen, on synthesizer) play like a more western-centric Can.
The record is made up of mostly extended instrumentals that roll with tight solos, ear catching melodies and hypnotically looping rhythms. The beauty of these jams is that they never once feel excessive. Each solo and every note feels very carefully chosen and extremely intentional. It’s like Forsyth and the other musicians are filling a canvas with only the most necessary details, leaving behind a vastly lush and concise picture.
Yet, despite this, the tracks never once feel too rehearsed or polished, either. The jams are far from the often soulless preset soloing of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Instead, they show off the musicians’ ability to just know and feel instinctively where and how their notes should land, and where the entire piece of music should go. This again is like a tight jazz band under the leadership of somebody like John Coltrane or Art Blakey.
The sound of the music moves through shades of gritty psychedelia, motorized folk rock (with the immensely fun treatment of Richard and Linda Thompson’s “You’re Going to Need Somebody”) and proggy pedal steel soundscapes. Fierce guitar tones reminiscent of both Neil Young and Richard Lloyd abound throughout the record, especially on the slowly burning flute-infused dirge that is “Long Beach Idyll.”
This is jam band music that escapes the tie-dye and sandals clichés and embraces the darker moods, rougher edge and adventurous spirit of artists like Television, Crazy Horse and Trans Am. Guitar freaks, post-punk and esoteric jam heads will go absolutely nuts over this record, as they rightly should. Click here to get your copy today.