This widely acclaimed band's sixth album furthers its plight of providing the listener with a gamut of compelling contrasts amid a unique stylization that offers additional credence to the pioneering efforts instituted by Cryptogramophone Records. Here, violinist Jeff Gauthier leads a prominent cast through jazz-fusion, bop, free improvisation and resonating harmonic output with an in-your-face type composure to offset an array of tender subtleties and classical inferences.
With Nels Cline's scorching guitar licks and keen use of distortion and effects, the musicians embark upon a mind-altering Alice in Wonderland scenario on the opener "40 Lashes (With Mascara)," where eloquence, dynamism and spaced-out treatments attain a fruitful coexistence. Moreover, Cline lets it rip during a solo that may reside somewhere between Jimi Hendrix and John McLaughlin, abetted by trumpeter John Fumo's commanding lines to supplement the ensemble's rather unscrupulous mode of attack.
Diversity and guile are two prevalent factors within the body of the program. The ensemble delves into abstract group improvisation via mimicking dialogues and odd voicings by the soloists, and other segments designed with Gauthier's classical overtones and temperate balladry. However, "Seashells and Balloons" is steeped in linear unison choruses and subdivided into a hazy carnival atmosphere partly due to David Witham's off-center accordion work to complement a few torrid burnouts. But Cline's steely guitar notes and drummer Alex Cline's snappy rim-shots pave the way for a turbo-mode blitz, subdued by bassist Joel Hamilton's supple solo spot, as the band launches a rumbling reentry point towards the primary theme.
The musicians execute a dirge during "Prelude to a Bite," patterned by a steady heartbeat and tension-building episodes, countered by dips, spikes, Fumo's blaring horn parts and a smattering of electronics effects. No doubt, Gauthier and associates form a multidimensional outlook, containing the elements of an involved plot, often witnessed during a high-impact cinematic endeavor. Indeed, Open Source is sure to find its way on numerous top-10 lists for 2011.