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Zapotec: Alpha Centuri (CD, 59:50); Psycho-Audible PA-0001 I had heard of Zapotec awhile back being described as a Mahavishnu Orchestra/ Dregs kind of thing. (Ole Steve F. was right.) Bill Curtis's guitar is definitely in the Mahavishnu vein and I hear some of Stan Samole and bits of Corrado Rustici. Anna Hubbell and Dave Kline on violins give even a Curved Air tinge to things, as on "Transient". A Magma/Univers Zero angst crops up very nicely. There is a pleasantly eerie aura in "Transient" and Curtis lets it all out in great fusion, rapid-fired notes in abundance. They outro in a King Crimsonic manic overdrive. "American in Japan (Revisited)" is an early Dregsish piece with great violin and keys. Curtis' playing is more Jade Warrior than Dregsian on this cut. The song is a journey right back to nostalgic prog fusion. "Nameless Thing" reminded me of a cross between PFM's Jet Lag and the Dregs again but with a Mahavishnu Orch. mid-song jam. "Dusk" had a laidback, live jam feel to it. It was a Wishbone Ash moment, (one guitar though). A piano, drums, and occasional bass were backup for Curtis' 2:57 noodling. Violin joins in for the outro. "Tribal" had a raw-edged, live feel as well. Curtis played reverby and with ample delay. I felt like I was sitting about third row back listening to this jam session. Guitar and violin did a lot of conversational solos. This tune was very Flying Island. "Spirit Hollow" is Curtis doing the acoustic, Kottke/Tibbetts/NeilYoung thang sans percussion. A wonderful channel-to-channel violin wafts in for the outro. The 19:19 remainder of the disc is essentially two extended, space rockish/ jazz rock fusion jams. One 6:03 jam has a noticeable degree of master tape hiss with an abrupt ending. Recommended fusion. ~ John W. Pattterson
Zapotec, Not of Sound Mind I know I'm not supposed to judge an album by its cover, but it was hard to not expect the worst considering the eyestraining cover of Not of Sound Mind. However, considering the power and intensity of this disc, I'm now happy that the group concentrated solely on musical content. "Ethnic fusion" is the term that first came to mind upon hearing this disc, but somehow it doesn't seem to accurately describe the visceral element of this music. Instead, try to think of Mahavishnu Orchestra with more Middle Eastern and funk influences and equally amazing guitar and violin lead work - and double all the tempos. Seriously, all these guys can play! Although Anna Hubbell's violin and Bill Curtis's guitar are the two most noticeably astounding instruments, the whole band really cooks - Jim Sullivan's percussion solos are insane (I'm a die-hard drum solo hater, but this guy is one of the few who can do them with taste) and bassist Mike Galway keeps it all together (no small feat) and contributes some marvelously funky slap bass solos as well. Combine the band's musicianship with complex compositions, full of tricky rhythms, mesmerizing guitar arpeggios, and achingly beautiful Eastern melodies, and you've got a killer mix. Further comments on this excellent disc would probably result in little else than a list of superlatives. Bottom line: One of the finest CDs EER's Editor sent me and one of the most intense fusion albums I've ever heard. One of the very few true must-hears. ~Jon Dharma Murphree~
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