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Progressive Rock DVD/Video Reviews

Travis Larson Band

Rock Show DVD

Review by Josh Turner

If you’re a fan of fusion, this gets right to the core of that zingy genre. There is little letup; and aside from small talk, there are no vocals whatsoever to get in the way of their rhythms. While motives lack words, instruments are never shy or hint to symptoms of laryngitis. To the contrary, Travis Larson handles the axe with precision and poise no matter how fast he’s playing. His style ranges from the sensitive slow hands of Eric Johnson to Eddie Van Halen’s accessible guitar bombs. In other words, he demonstrates a multiplex of sensibilities across the fret-boards.

Rounding out the trio, Dale Moon jabs the soft tissue with his drumsticks to open up these cuts while Jennifer Young’s bass gives these pieces their punch. Together, they take inconspicuous kernels and run them through the hot air popper. This results in a handful of crunchy puffs that parallel Liquid Tension Experiment’s technical mastication. However, there is hardly any fluff even when you factor in Larson’s unopposed solos or the numerous jams slammed away at full strength.

As for standouts, the first is “Morse Code.” It’s interesting in the sense that keyboards can be heard without the presence of a pianist. To explicate this sleight of hand, Larson appears to be initiating these simulations from foot pedals. Only after the song concludes does the band take pause. At this juncture, Larson calls for a timeout to wish someone in the crowd a happy birthday. “Stratospheric Alien Boundaries” results from the huddle and in it the crew sends us to a faraway place.

Several tracks later, “Return to Zero” has a nice, swanky beat. Another hop away, one has to wonder if “Sandusky Trail” was concocted whilst coasting tubular rails at Cedar Point.

As to apparent influences, “Know Strings Attached” best personifies Tony Levin, John Petrucci, and Mike Portnoy. The only thing that’s missing is a keyboardist from Julliard or Berklee.

In the final stretch, “Powerdown” is the cool off cycle that reprises the faint residues of earlier material. Leaving nothing to chance, a couple more rock compositions are provided in the conclusive rinse. As it turns out, “Nut Boy” arrives last and it’s the most inspired of the bunch. It’s like Dixie Dregs in a Downy Ball. Though closing notes may cling to minds, it leaves laundered items in a supple, static-free state.

Overall, their concert is modestly succinct since pretention is absent from the rink. This may shorten the event but ensures that every second counts. While there was room to throw something extra in, they chose instead to go with the lean and mean approach. So all you can do as far as special features are concerned is incorporate commentary or drop the puck and resume play.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 2 at
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