Best Of The Batch: Amphis-Baena
Genre: Jazz Fusion-Electronica
Label: Riparius Productions
Amphis-Baena (pronounced am-fis-bay-nuh) is three very talented musicians that put together a five-song album titled Fleeting. In the five tracks offered on the CD, you get nearly 40 minutes of music. The content, however, is far from fleeting - it captures your imagination, awakens your senses, and gives you an all around pleasure filled aural escape worth listening to several times.
I asked Brian Scherman (alto sax) what the name of the group meant, and he told me Amphisbaena typically refers to a Greek mythological snake that had a head at both ends. One of his main inspirations is Scandinavian music, and the name indirectly relates to his interest in the music and its overall vibe. I found this very interesting. Not having any particular exposure to native Scandinavian music certainly makes exploring it an intriguing possibility. If it is anything like this music, it makes the prospects even more enticing.
The blend of ambient sounds and textures mixed with contemporary jazz is and always has been very appealing to these ears. Many folks would probably consider it new age or something like that, but I would not label it as such. In fact, I do not think putting any type of label on this music would be fair at all. It stands on its own as a unique approach and style without being a time tested, familiar sound, making it an all together refreshing and intriguing flight of fancy.
Each track clocks in at over seven minutes and the opener, “Hypersolace,” comes in at nearly 11 minutes. Every composition is a story without words, a musical journey with a different flavor and atmosphere. There are no electric or acoustic guitars, and surprisingly I did not miss that aspect at all. The keys, sax, effects, and drums were quite enough to fill the room with music that is incredibly engaging and thought provoking. This is great jazz fusion with tremendous thought given to improvisation.
The utilization of a limited amount of instruments and tools makes it a convincing listen that is hard to forget once the music is over. I look at the five compositions as a book that you read via your ears and then interpreted through your soul. Each track is a chapter in the ongoing story.
When I stop and think about what it was like listening to this CD a few times, I realize that although each track offered something different and each stands as separate work of art, collectively it melds itself seamlessly to form one song. It's not all that difficult to envision if you're accustomed to this style of music, but if your not, this will open up an entirely new world of discoveries. Either way, it is all good and worth checking out if you have eager ears hungry for something different.
1. Hypersolace (10:50)
2. Nomad (7:15)
3. Fleeting (7:43)
4. Puffins’ Dance (7:56)
5. End’s End (7:30)
Brian Scherman-alto sax, effects
Adam Clark-drums, handsonic
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