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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Oz Noy

Fuzzy

Review by Gary Hill

Sometimes fusion can be stale and overly technical. It feels like the whole soul and spark of the music has been pulled from it. That’s never the case with the music of Oz Noy. While the arrangements are diverse and the performances at times turn into incendiary powerhouse of virtuoso playing, one never loses the feeling of humanity and passion. This is thinking man’s music, but it also appeals to those who feel. As with Rush’s neo-God Cygnus, Oz Noy is the bringer of balance in the instrumental fusion world.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Which Way Is Up?
Keyboards start this off and percussion join in. It’s only a short matter of time before they launch out into a killer fusion jam that’s energized and exceptionally tasty. Some of the guitar lines that weave over the top of this remind me a bit of Steve Howe at times. They drop it back to an awesome spacey texture and then a fast paced solo leads it off into new territory and brings a new vitality to the cut. They move it through a number of varying motifs in a cohesive and potent composition. This is really a powerhouse number and a great choice to lead off the CD.
Cisnuc Background
Backwards tracking starts off this operation. They move out into a killer, rather funky, blues oriented fusion sound to carry it forward. This is a slower groove that is very tasty. This also turns into some territory that I would equate with Steve Howe. As it moves onward, though, it works through a number of varying sounds and moods and modes. A faster paced guitar solo later really calls to mind Howe in my mind. This does a great job of deftly moving between the slower and more melodic and the faster paced, incendiary sounds.
Fuzzy
Here we get a killer fast paced jam with a hint of bluesy southern rock. This if funky, fast and fun. They move out later into a keyboard based, and then turn it towards space. This surges out into fast paced, frantic fusion from there. We get an extended drum solo, at times accompanied by some space noise keyboards. They eventually power it back up into the main rocking fusion groove to carry on.
Three Wishes
Echoey sounds bring this one up and then an acoustic guitar melody that’s quite pretty comes in as the new motif for the cut. Other instruments join after a time and we are taken on a gentle ride. The work this one around in varying movements and textures, but overall this stays a bit closer to its roots than some of the other material here. It only really powers up for one, rather noisy sort of jam that takes it into heavier fusion territory. Beyond that this one stays pretty consistent, and rather mellow. This makes it one of the more diverse cuts and a change of pace. Not that this disc needs it, though, there is a lot of variance from track to track here, and even within each song.
EpistrroFunk
In a major shift noisy sound effects lead this off. As they coalesce the group launch into a killer slab of funky playing that’s just plain perfect. As the wander onward it shifts out into a more Dregs-like jam and then other sounds and modes skirt across the landscape and take control from time to time. This turns in some seriously fiery instrumental work later and is one of my favorite tracks on the disc. This thing is diverse and dynamic, but also just plain inspirational. It’s a killer kut.
Intensity
The ghosts of Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix rise up on the introduction to this one. Jamming within a killer fusion motif, the two guitar gods are well represented. This shifts and turns around some assorted corners and moves in some varying directions, but the scorching guitar sound that dominates much of the composition really steals the show. They slow it way down later and the guitar weaves some smoking blues over the top of the musical backdrop. It turns into an unusual percussive based section further down the road. Hendrix and Vaughn return in time to close out the festivities in fine style with another extended jam. This is my favorite track on the disc.
Sometimes It Snows In April
Gentle sounds start this in a pretty acoustic guitar based mode. It builds very slowly. It wanders towards space at about the two and a half-minute mark. This turns a bit chaotic and noisy in texture as it works its way onward. They recover back out into more melodic territory after a short time. This continues to make changes and alterations in its course as it continues its trek through musical space. You might hear a musical quote from the acoustic work of Hendrix on this one.
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
While the title might make you think you are getting a 1960’s bubble gum rock and roll track, that’s not what we have here at all. Instead the guitar weaves lines of funk and blues in a killer fusion arrangement. This bobs and dodges in the course of its musical storytelling. At about a minute and a half in they shift directions and alter their course towards more calm waters. These waters turn echoey and troubled after a while, though. The guitar and keyboards work through the jam with some great musical wanderings. This is another highlight of the disc and a tune you’ll likely find yourself coming back to over and over again. It has some of the most incendiary guitar work of the whole disc and just plain shines.
In A Simple Way
Staying in mellow territory, the opening of this track is the most sedate jazzy sounds we’ve heard thus far. It winds around in a very satisfying and pretty fashion, but still has enough drama and power to keep it interesting. The instruments provide passion and evoke emotions, while still working through varying layers of instrumental experimentation and exploration. Just before the two and a half-minute mark this moves out into spacey territory and then shifts the corner into another Hendrix-like segment with backwards guitar sounds moving into different parsecs of space. This moves its way outward as an open, fairly mellow space type jam to take it forward. They take it through a number of alterations and recreations to keep the music fresh and turn it far more rock and roll in its delivery before they end things.
Evidence
A noisy pounding sound is delivered in a rather King Crimson-like fashion. They work through this general musical theme for a time before shifting out into some killer new jams. This turns funky later as it carries on. This section is the most effective part we’ve heard so far. The bass weaves lines of rubbery sound underneath the funky guitar as the percussion holds down the tempo. Still, they manage to maintain a listenable groove and keep it “real.” This tune is fiery and alive. A stuttering here and there sort of breakdown segment, while a bit odd, is very effective. It’s another highlight of the disc and is a killer piece of music. They definitely chose to send on a high note with this number.
 
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