The MoonJune Records promo lit for this disc directly uses the sharp adjective "bold", and I have to agree, but one should be a bit careful in too readily seizing the Madison Ave. definition of the term ('loud', 'lurid', 'pronounced', etc.), as I Know You Well Miss Clara is an extremely subtle ensemble. Yet another in MJR's growing catalogue of fusion from Indonesia, Chapter One is unexpected, at times neoclassical, then Blue Note hushed, later 70s fusionoid, but always rather audacious in their approach at every point. Again, the back of your head isn't going to blow off, as when Magma cranks into things, that's not the boldness being crafted here but rather a very unexpectedly calm and refined approach.
Think of Soft Machine's quietest and spaciest songs and moments, or maybe one of Phil Manzanera's laybacks in the many non-Roxy Music groups he's steered (801, Quiet Sun, etc.), as well as Joe Zawinul, though, true, the boys in Clara can rev up or accentuate in fierce terms when the mood strikes—Reverie #2 accomplishes that quite nicely—while still backplaying the environmental tranquility. When Reza Ryan decides to step out on guitar, he does so emphatically but also opaquely. The emotion built is difficult to define, kinda like a Nobel physicist sipping daquiris while fitting new formulae into a gigantic equation he's been working on for a year. When it's done, you know it's magnificent…you just don't know what it is, and he won't tell you as he grins and closes his eyes, humming.
These lads are icy cool sophisticates, neuromancers in jeans and t-shirts, unruffled and unprepossessing. Those fond of jam bands in a Bonaroo / Burning Man fashion, especially the chill and acid aspects, will bliss out and offer sacrifices to the gods that Clara will decide to put in appearances stateside sometime soon. One can listen for hours, turn into a puddle of protoplasm, and still have the brain locked into every nuance, all the susurrating oceans of vistas and horizons. Sometimes, my friends, sometimes you can be just as dazed by whispering sorceries as by exploding slabs of distortion and chords; sometimes the former overpowers the latter, and this is one of those very rare times.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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