Pattern-Seeking Animals Pattern-Seeking Animals
An unpredictable Spock’s Beard spinoff featuring drummer JIMMY KEEGAN.
Those hoping for lots of dense muso-centric epics from this Spock’s Beard side project will likely be disappointed. The band’s self-titled debut, largely written and cowritten by Spock’s collaborator John Boegehold, does, however, worm its way into your psyche via glorious melodies, occasional retro sonic cues, and deep-pocket grooves by drummer Jimmy Keegan. Keegan skates in the multisectional “Orphans of the Universe” in what feels like 7/8, and later, in the whirling instrumental midsection, he charges with an approximation of Bernard Purdie’s funky halftime shuffle. Loping, tom-heavy fills perfectly capture the slightly comedic mood of the quasi-spooky “We Write the Ghost Stories,” while the hauntingly beautiful closer, “Stars Along the Way,” benefits from Keegan’s restraint and sense of drama. Although some of this material recalls 1970s classic rock, plenty of musical surprises (not to mention Keegan’s air-drum-worthy fills) make this offering a strangely familiar, if not addictive, listen. (Inside Out) Will Romano
Sacred Reich Awakening
The thrash metal standard-bearers offer their first new material in twenty-three years and celebrate the return of drummer DAVE MCCLAIN.
Offering a healthy helping of classic ’90s thrash elements to satisfy their still-loyal fan base, Sacred Reich’s new eight-song LP, Awakening, sounds at times like it could have been written in their mid-’90s heyday, sparing the thick, modern production. Dave McClain, a member of the band in the early and mid ’90s and recently departed long-time member of metal titans Machine Head, performed all of the parts on Awakening despite his absence during preproduction due to touring obligations. Falling easily back into step with bassist and lead vocalist Phil Rind, McClain’s playing here is just as bombastic, chopsy, and aggressive as the band’s earlier material. Stand-out moments include his smashing intro/verse groove and hand/ foot combo fills on album opener “Awakening,” classic thrash drive on “Divide & Conquer,” and loping 12/8 cowbell groove on “Death Valley.” (Metal Blade Records) Ben Meyer
District 97 Screens
The band’s fifth album offers more of the same—meaning, a wholly different kind of modern progressive rock.
It’s nearly impossible to envision these mixed-genre tracks without the presence of bandleader and drummer Jonathan Schang. When Schang isn’t shadowing guitar lines with pinpoint accuracy (“Forest Fire”) or adorning his grooves with textural accents and tricky kick-snare combinations, he’s announcing the opening of songs with idiosyncratic drum riffs (“Trigger”), letting things chill in “Bread & Yarn,” and bolstering the compositional structure of this diverse material with polyrhythms and what feels like over-the-bar playing. The complexity of Schang’s playing seems to unfold upon repeated listens. Songs such as “Sea I Provide” and “Sheep” are shaped by double-kick pedal workouts, while the latter settles (momentarily) into a kind of metallic jazzy-funky pocket during the verses. The eleven-minute closer, “Ghost Girl,” the apogee of Leslie Hunt’s visceral vocal performances here, sees Schang at his most lyrical, if not avantgarde—a strangely appropriate rhythmic aspect capping off an enjoyably sideways affair. (Cherry Red) Will Romano
Lisa Maxwell’s Jazz Orchestra Shiny!
The saxophonist and composer blends low culture with high art, while her rotating cast of veteran drummers keep things swinging.
Lisa Maxwell’s Jazz Orchestra’s Shiny! draws on both classic jazz and the funky feel of television theme songs from the 1970s. The saxophonist’s first full album of original material is anchored by precise, airtight grooves from Steven Wolf, Danny Gottlieb, and Ben Perowsky. From Wolf’s fresh variation on the infamous Purdie Shuffle, which drives “Son of Creeper,” to Gottlieb’s herky-jerky patterns in “Hello, Wayne?”, Maxwell’s arrangements impress on a technical level without sacrificing accessibility. In fact, accessibility seems to be part of the point. Even simpler songs like “Israel” offer Perowsky chances to strategically alter traditional snare accent patterns in favor of spastic fills that build tension while maintaining a healthy sense of swing. (Uncle Marvin Music) Keaton Lamle
TAKING THE REINS
Chinchano El Regreso
JUAN PASTOR forges an intriguing international hybrid.
“El Regreso” (“The Return”) refers to drummer/percussionist/composer Juan Pastor’s emotional full-circle journey. An emerging artist in Chicago’s jazz scene, Pastor returned to his native Lima to accept a university position. But within a year he sorely missed his stateside musical community and relocated to Chicago yet again to resume leading his quintet, Chinchano. Their third disc again brilliantly blends jazz with the fascinating folkloric rhythms of Peru—along with other South American influences—in upbeat, melodic, and thoroughly modern interpretations. Upping the ante, this outing includes guests, with an emphasis on percussionists. Pastor is fabulously grooving and expressive, playing a hybrid kit including cajon and multipercussion, creating the illusion of a multilayered rhythm “section”. The added percussionists lend him even greater freedom, as heard during his soaring solo on “Resistencia”. Noted alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón also cameos with brio. Inventive, joyful, and overflowing with mind-boggling rhythmic experimentation. Welcome back. (Quinto Pulse) Jeff Potter
Other Drummer-Leds to Check Out
Jimmy Cobb Remembering U /// Gerald Cleaver and Violet Hour Live at Firehouse 12 /// Samuel Torres Alegria ///
Jason Harnell Total Harnage /// Mareike Wiening Metropolis Paradise /// Paul Edelstein Drums + Emotion
Aquiles Priester All Access to Aquiles Priester’s Drumming
More razor-sharp power metal drumming from the Brazilian master.
All Access isn’t Aquiles Priester’s first live-in-the-studio performance video, but this intense Blu-ray/DVD offering might just be his best. Captured with twelve HD cameras, every angle of Priester’s playing is documented with startling detail, and the audio recording is near perfection for a rock kit mix.
Priester runs an assortment of tunes from bands he’s associated with, including selections from Brazilian prog-metal group Hangar’s latest disc, Stronger than Ever, and songs from three albums he recorded with Brazilian metal group Noturnall. With his beautiful silver sparkle kit and red cymbals, Priester brings serious power to this material, laying down massive tom fills in between intricate patterns that use splashes and mini timbales. His double bass precision is equally impressive over the course of seventeen tracks, so as an instructional aide, have your kick chops at an apex if you want to take a crack at your own covers.
Any thirty-second segment here could serve as your homework over the next year, from the left hand–lead action in “Saint Trigger” to the choked cymbal and foot combos in “The Revenant.” In Portuguese with English subtitles and clocking in at four and a half hours, with behind-the-scenes footage and Priester’s helpful thoughts on drum tuning, this package delivers. (Hudson Music) Ilya Stemkovsky
10 Snare Drum Etudes for Improvisation, Volume One by Dr. Eric Binder
An exercise in variation on classic rudimental themes designed to challenge jazz drummers.
Subtitled Rudimental Snare Drum Etudes Featuring Jazz Vocabulary, 10 Snare Drum Etudes for Improvisation functions less as a collection of “pieces” to learn than as a series of increasingly difficult exercises designed to help jazz drummers perfect their ability to improvise snare fills, accents, and grooves. (Note: While the term “etude” is sometimes casually used to mean “composition for a single instrument,” it technically denotes a piece designed to develop specific instrumental skills.) As such, the book succeeds, featuring a natural progression of difficulty across the ten etudes, and gradually implementing new, challenging patterns just when learners start to get comfortable with its prior rudimental themes.
Binder, who has performed with Joel Frahm and Christos Rafalides in addition to releasing two records as a bandleader, takes an academic approach to the compositions, creating difficult sticking patterns and counterintuitively phrased fills as a way to deconstruct different players’ drumming tics and rhythmic “blocks.” While it should be noted that this book is targeted at more accomplished players, anybody hoping to increase their ability to improvise around standard rudimental ideas could benefit from playing through it. (ericbinder.bigcartel.com) Keaton Lamle