Group Therapy Digitalive (2000, self-released) The Japanese sextet Group Therapy plays a relaxed style of fusion laced with an R&B feel, augmented by a horn duo with the unusual instrumentation of soprano sax and trombone. "Digitalive," the group's second self-released CD, was recorded live in April 2000 and contains three tracks, each clocking in at over 10 minutes. Group Therapy's sound mixes R&B influenced fusion with horn choruses similar to early Chicago, producing a unique brand of jazz influenced music that remains melodically accessible and jam rock oriented. The soprano sax and trombone provide a unique horn section voice, with different timbres and ranges that compliment each other in an unusual yet highly appropriate way. The three songs on "Digitalive" remain engaging despite their extended length by moving through different sections and tasteful solos. A bouncing bass line and horn exclamations punctuate the almost funk groove of "Atlantis." "Incident in Damascus" builds around a sinuous Middle Eastern melody introduced on guitar synth and soprano sax. The rhythm guitar usually plays crisp, funk style clean chords, and the lead guitar steps forward for several elegant solos in a thick, smooth tone, discreetly mixed within the sound of the rest of the band. The soprano sax and trombone often trade short lead lines or take longer solos between horn choruses or band melody lines. The largely competent bass work occasionally falls into extremely simple patterns, such as the walking bass line beginning "Metalomania," and tends to repeat bass lines excessively without variations on the groove. The sound of "Digitalive" contains some ragged edges, like a hum in the bass midway through "Atlantis," and the horn section out of tune during the middle of "Metalomania." However, the irrepressible, spontaneous flow of the music in a live setting conquers these sonic shortcomings. The unique sound and the vigorous live performance of Group Therapy make the "Digitalive" CD-R EP a refreshingly original musical experience. The band's web site is informative, despite the innocuously self-aggrandizing tone of the prose and the occasionally awkward English. Reviewed by Scott Andrews [sha3u@Virginia.edu] More Info:
Group Therapy: Atlantis (CD, 43:46); Mellow Records, MMP 356, 1998 E-mail: email@example.com Cyberhome: http://www2.nkansai.ne.jp/users/goz/grothera/ 10 words or less: Dissonant, groove-based Fusion by Japanese ensemble Elaboration: The Japanese are quite eclectic when it comes to progressive music, approaching it from all angles. Group Therapy's approach is much more on the Jazz side of Fusion than say, their more famous countrymen Kenso. This CD kicks off with the short, high-energy tune "New Song No.2". Composed in 5/4 this tune features some nice slap/pluck Bass and dissonant Horns. Track two, "Queens of Ansett" is a smoother piece with a Jazz/Funk groove. After the theme is presented with the dissonant Horns again at the forefront, we are treated to a fine electric Guitar solo followed by an 'out there' Sax solo and then a fine Trumpet solo. "Return of Doyo Wide Gekijyo" is a mello Jazz piece with a slight build and release in the middle. "The Hope" is another Jazz/Funk groove with a fine Guitar solo. "Visions in the Mirror Parts 1 & 2" starts off quite upbeat. Still in the Jazz/Funk vein, this one is a bit more exciting and the Horns are in key this time. The apparent transition to part 2 gets mello with the cymbal and slap/pluck Bass providing the rhythm, then it picks up again with a short Guitar solo and longer Sax solo. The album's closer is "Atlantis Parts 1,2,3,4 & 5". Clocking in at over 14 minutes, this starts off with a smooth Guitar riff over High Hat and Bass rhythm that soon includes a Guitar solo played through an interesting sound effect. Sax and trumpet then take over with a call and answer solo section. The next section starts with a subtle slap/pluck Bassline and Horn riff giving way to mellow Keys and then a nice wah wah effect comes in with the Flute and Drums . . . cool here. The next section is in 5/4 with a smokin' Guitar solo which gives way to a short Sax solo and then a short Trumpet solo; all coming together for the closing riff. Overall, this is an interesting Fusion album from Japan but it's nothing to write home about. ~ L Perez
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