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Niacin

Organik

Review by Gary Hill

Niacin just keeps getting better. While all their albums are entertaining, the earlier ones seemed to be a little more low key in some ways - leaning more on the smooth jazz than the prog. Of late they seem to be pulling in more frantic jamming and timing changes and quirky rhythmic patterns. The result is that each album seems to get better and better. So, here we have the latest dosage from Billy Sheehan, Dennis Chambers and John Novello (better known as Niacin) and I am told that it is an Organik vitamin.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Barbarian At The Gate
They waste no time getting to it, jumping instantly into a frantic ELP meets King Crimson lightning fast jam. I couldn't imagine a much better disc opener coming from these guys. 
Nemesis
This comes in at first tentatively, then bursts into a fusion-like ELP-tinged jam with a great groove. Novello puts in a very tasty piano solo in the middle of this one. Sheehan's bass seems to be everywhere on this cut. They throw in a section of KC-like slight dissonance later. 
Blisterine
Coming in with just bass and percussion, this one stays that way for a while before the keys bring in waves of sound overtop, then eventually begin soaring overhead.
King Kong
Jamming this time on a Frank Zappa composition, the guys put in a retro jazzy textured rendition of the piece. This one covers a lot of territory and is a fairly long piece. It gets rather chaotic at times and drops way down and Sheehan solos to end it.
Super Grande
More fast paced instrumental prog jamming is on the menu here. The ELPish tendencies return on this one. They wander into a killer, more melodic movement later, but then move back into the fast paced musical explorations to carry on later.
Magnetic Mood
The groove on this one is an extremely cool, more laid back jazz texture. They take this one on quite a few interesting twists and turns and Sheehan gets in another awesome solo.
Hair of the Dog
A fusion texture begins this in an off kilter jam. Suddenly it shifts gear to dissonant symphonic music for a few measures before coming back to where it came from. This twists around later into a nearly metal pounding jam, then turns around again into a soaring prog adventure. The symphonic section returns later for longer to crescendo to end the piece.
4 ' 5 3
This is another one that has a definite ELP-like texture, but it also has a nice retro groove format.
Stumble on the Truth
This one is a pretty typical Niacin track, jazzy retro prog based on a killer groove. A fast paced driving break, though, is off kilter just a little King Crimson like.
Club Soda
This fast paced retro sounding jazz prog cut is based on a killer riff. They put in some awe-inspiring instrumental modes over top of this and change it up later to an ELP-like section at a few points. This turns into an incredibly awesome later with simulated non-lyrical vocals lending a bit of an African texture to the piece, and the band jam like madmen there.
No Shame
This comes in with something that feels like scat singing, only there is no voice. This bouncy jazzy groove really rocks.
Clean House
Here we get more trademark Niacin in the form of a smooth, funky jazzy retro prog groove. There are no earth shattering change ups here, just good, clean fun.
Extra Special Bonus Track - Foot Prints In The Sand
This is still more vintage Niacin - a good rocker and a smooth close to the disc. 
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