The George Dulin Disband's debut Ride of Your Life is a spring-loaded grenade of an album, with tunes that spray shrapnel all over the immediate area, unconcerned if the original target is hit - loss of coherence listed as collateral damage to the god of forward motion - enthusiastically bulldozing through eight tunes without pausing to think. It's an invigorating and exhausting experience.
The template is The Bad Plus, a piano-bass-drum set-up mic'd to burst. Dulin is a Kansas City kid who ended up graduating from the Berklee School of Music - thankfully no academic moss has gathered. Now a NYC nighthawk, he's gigged with the Josh Irving Quartet and is currently studying under Dave Holland sax-man Chris Potter (recent release: Underground), and drummer Dafnis Prieto.
The opener "Stingray Road" starts with an insistent Danny Zanker bass ostinato, when Dulin swoops in with the seesawing melody, sneaking in as many notes as he can. Next chorus, he breaks things down in abstract clusters of notes before settling on a disjointed high-register riff. It's all momentum as Take Toriyama needles the crash cymbal with muted intensity. No room is given to reflect on the proceedings as Dulin returns with more sweeping runs that stoke the adrenaline. Innocuous solos follow - all they do is interrupt the ferocious flow they've created. Virtuosity over, the group locks in for the stop-time close.
The jewel of these perpetual-motion machines is the demented whirligig that is "Cerebral Dong Nosh", which utilizes a faintly Middle Eastern melody that swirls to a peak - only to stop for a Toriyama solo, this time in tune with the fractured dynamics of the rest of the piece, thrashing the skins with metal influenced runs. The band snaps back in - where a melody is briefly phrased before Dulin starts smashing block chords, then segues into a serpentine child-like melody as Take scrapes the cymbal. Reflection over - the melody throws a tantrum and smashes the keys to bits. Zankel tosses in a liquid solo before the group returns to show they can actually carry a tune.
The ballads, "Seawatch" and "Waltz for Miwa", are tasteful affairs, moderately successful experiments in restraint, but the merely serve as brief respites from the controlled chaos that drives the rest of the album. It’s a bracing and often thrilling work - their enthusiasm is contagious.