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Deep Energy Orchestra

Playing with Fire

Review by Gary Hill

This is quite an intriguing set. It features a sound that seems to be a merging of world music of the Indian variety, fusion and progressive rock. Other than a bit of scat singing a couple places on the disc, this is instrumental. It features Trey Gunn on Warr guitar along with a number of other musicians. The electric violin of Rachel Nesvig really shines a lot of the time. To my ears the other musician who really shines out in Jason Everett (aka Mister E) on bass. All in all, this is quite an intriguing and entertaining set.

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Track by Track Review
The Return
Trippy psychedelia brings this in, while the bass lends a bit of a funky edge to it. The track starts to build out from there in some cool fusion directions. This reminds me a bit of Jean-Luc Ponty. The violin really gets a chance to explore on this number. It drops for a bit of scat singing. Then it fires out with more intensity and passion from there.
There is a lot of Indian based texture built into this. The cut is more of a psychedelic rocker in a lot of ways, but it does have a healthy helping of that fusion texture. Again, the violin brings a lot of magic to it. The world music and other elements dance around one another in style. A particularly mellow passage ends the cut.
Mysterious World
Coming in harder rocking than the stuff we've heard to this point, the fusion and world music elements are both all over this thing. As this continues to evolve and develop it works out into some decidedly King Crimson styled sounds. Don't get too comfortable there, though, as the world music elements become dominant after a time. That movement takes the piece to its close.
The River
Coming in with Indian music based mellower sounds, this has a real psychedelic edge to it as it starts. There is prominent world drumming on this cut, and then number really remains in the vein of traditional Indian music for a lot of its duration.
Lotus Feet
This comes in mellow and percussive and gradually grows upward with a lot of world music in the mix. This is fairly extensive (running over ten minutes) and works through a lot of different musical concepts in that run. It has a lot of fusion in the mix at times and even leans toward space music with its psychedelic edge at times. Further down the road (after the halfway mark) some cool King Crimson like textures take over the top end while some real fusion drives the rhythm section.
Resolve / Improv / Caravan
The epic of the piece, this trilogy of songs is almost 20 minutes long. It starts with a cool world music meets folk, fusion and prog section. It grows gradually outward from there with some of those King Crimson hints showing up after a time. It gets back to more folk world music based stuff as some killer jamming territory is explored. Some world music based scat singing emerges after a while. The cut eventually moves back to instrumental territory. Around the six and a half minute mark it drops way down and spacey textures gradually bring it back upward. Crimsonian guitar work of the mellower variety comes in over the top of this musical tapestry after a time. The piece remains on the mellower end of the spectrum but does some serious evolving, working through a number of varying movements. Trey Gunn really gets to show off his skills as this wends its way through, particularly around the 14 minute mark. It continues to evolve from there, managing to maintain more of a fusion rock texture as it does so. Percussion takes command for a while. It rises back upward to some rather classically tinged sounds from there, though.
Honor / Amazing Grace
Acoustic, world music textures open this. Yet there is a bit of a modern edge to it in some ways. As the percussion picks up the track gets a lot more energy. It drives forward with organic world music textures. After this builds up to more intense stuff, it eventually comes back down for an acoustic rendition of "Amazing Grace" that ends the set.
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