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FAME Review: Garaj Mahal - More Mr. Nice Guy
 
Garaj Mahal - More Mr. Nice Guy

More Mr. Nice Guy

Garaj Mahal

Owl Studios - OWL00135

Available from Owl Studios.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com).

While these four gents were busying themselves colliding their wont to musical allsorts into a disc unveiling the new Moog Guitar (Discovery, here), they decided to stay in the studio and work up another fierily sophisticated ensemble CD as well (Discovery is necessarily more guitar pointed), so that thirsty progressive ears should not go undernourished. In many ways, what these cats have been doing for a while now forwards the old Tempest (Alan Holdsworth's stunning and heavy group), Isotope (which boasted the amazing Gary Boyle), Colosseum II (one of Gary Moore's several early haunts after Skid Row), and sundry other progfusion bands. They aren't the only ones, and Tachyonic sounds very much like an old Brand X cut with very Lumley/Goodsall/Jones/Collins-ish interplay, but they're definitely among the foremost.

Miles, Herbie, Freddie, and a clutch of time-honored estimables propounded this style, and Garaj Mahal has been more than happy to keep the torch lit, -- more rock, and even lightly metal, oriented than the jazzsters but every inch as dedicated and clever. The lengths of the cuts (noted below) indicate the degree of sincerity in extrapolation, improvisation, and chart extension, and the listener may not come to More Mr. Nice Guy with an indifferent attitude. Fareed Haque (guitars), Kai Eckhardt (bass), "the Rick" (drums), and Eric Levy (keys) are masters, deadset, and dive in with gritted teeth and high spirits.

Levy, in fact, in several of those times he's not hiding in the mix, which is fairly often, reminds me more than a little of Robin Lumley's illuminated style. I consider Lumley to be one of the most neglected keyboard geniuses of the last three decades, a gent who approaches his instrument with a thoroughly unique élan similar to Manfred Mann in his Earth Band period and a wonder to hear. More than once, Levy grooves straight into that same territory, coloring the atmosphere with subtly rich hues and understated energy.

I'm not sure I can vote affirmatively for the vocal cut, Today, it being too much like those instances Stanley Clarke decided to get funky or Jeff Beck squired Upp lo those many years ago, but, that aside, this Owl release (and all the rest, including the sparkling Rob Dixon combos) is one to stand with materials issued by MoonJune, Cuneiform, and the stalwart progressive imprints refusing to "go acid" and just stick to stunning playing within an inventiveness celebrating The Great Era (the 70s, of course!).

Track List:

  • Witch Doctor (Kai Eckardt) (5:36)
  • Faster than the Speed of Time (Eric Levy) (:45)
  • Tachyonics (Eric Levy) (8:07)
  • The Long Form (Fareed Haque) (10:41)
  • Today (Sean Rickman) (5:22)
  • Frankly Frankie Ford (Fareed Haque) (9:16)
  • What My Friends Say (Sean Rickman) (5:16)
  • Chester the Pester (Kai Eckardt) (10:05)
  • Alison's Pony (Eric Levy) (8:58)

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

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Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
 
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