Sean "The Rick" Rickman replaces drummer Alan Hertz for the quartet’s latest release that finds the artists surging forth within a pacesetting mode of operations. The band renders a homogenous brew, consisting of jazz-rock, Indo jazz-rock, popping funk and world groove pulses. With guitar ace Fareed Haque, keyboardist Eric Levy’s multifarious inventions and all-world bassist Kai Eckhardt’s fluidly pumping bottom-end, the band ventures into many cross-genre environs while sustaining a distinct sound.
With ample injections of pop, sizzle and flourishing theme-building exercises, the ensemble cruises through charging fuzoid rockers amid Levy’s snazzy synth motifs and more. They bridge the gap between classic electric jazz modalities in concert with contemporary concepts. Levy’s dirty Fender Rhodes workouts coalesce nicely with Haque’s razor-sharp and often sizzling lead lines. Although Rickman’s soul-rock and trebly vocal spots atop perky rhythms on "Today" and "What My Friends Say" come across as tepid stabs at garnering some form of radio play. However, this is a minor beef, since the majority of these pieces are shrewdly arranged and designed with memorable hooks.
Garaj Mahal abides by a manifesto that embeds in-the-pocket tightness, loose improv and jam-based forays, woven into complex time signatures or straight-ahead, in-your-face type persuasions. They lighten the load during the melodic and dreamy "Alison’s Pony," where Eckhardt’s mellow, deep bass lines add a bit of oomph to the sum of the parts. In effect, the musicians separate themselves from many of the humdrum and compositionally-weak electric jazz endeavors that sometimes flood the market. Moreover, check out Garaj Mahal’s concurrent release "Discovery" on Owl Studios as Haque incorporates the Moog Guitar into another hot and heavy engagement. Apparently, Haque is one of the few guitarists sanctioned to work with the prototype and employs the instrument on this session as well.