Artist: Sound Behavior Troupe
Title: Metamorphosis Shaman
Review by G. W. Hill
Instrumental music can be a tough sell for some listeners. That means the audience for this release might be a little limited. The thing is, the sound here is both experimental and adventurous, but also accessible. This outfit has created music that manages to flow and groove in a way that makes it non-threatening and even catchy at times, yet it still has an edginess and compositional complexity that lands it firmly in the guitar driven progressive rock territory. There are bits of jam band sound and even some surf music here, but the closest comparison is something closer to King Crimson and California Guitar Trio.
A retro rock meets jam band sound opens “Metamorphosis.” Organ sounds skim over the top as the guitar creates waves of jam band-like sound. The piece works through for almost a minute like that. Then there’s a little segue that’s a bit like combining Frank Zappa with King Crimson. From there it’s more jam band sound and the thing feels a little like Booker T. and the MG’s merged with The Grateful Dead. Although that jam band vibe pervades much of the piece, they do shift it out later into more King Crimson-inspired stuff. At times it feels a bit fusion-like. Then there’s a shift to darker, heavier music that is quite definitely in line with modern King Crimson. However, in the midst of that, they bring in some more classic rock sounds to shake it up and brand it as their own. Those more experimental, angular King Crimson oriented textures eventually become the dominant force in the later portions of the piece and this really does cover a lot of musical territory. At almost six and a half minutes in length, there’s plenty of time for exploration, and they take advantage of it. A quick burst of sound not that far removed from something the Allman Brothers might do ends the number.
While that proggy King Crimson sound is still present when “Shaman” opens, there’s a real groove to the piece. A lot of the guitar sounds also seem to have a surf sound. Yet, circular riffing still makes the comparisons to King Crimson, and also California Guitar Trio, absolutely valid. In some ways, this is an even more creative cut because the blending of sounds seems more seamless. In other words, while the other track had various elements represented, in most cases it was one sound at a time. This track seems to showcase the groove and surf music at the same time King Crimson-oriented jamming is driving it. There is even a tasty drop back to a more stripped down arrangement that features some funky bass work. It also has some meaty, classic rock styled guitar soloing in the mix. While this piece is clearly more instantly accessible, it doesn’t lose any meat of complexity in achieving that. It’s just a little longer than the opener, too.
While there is clearly no weakness or fault with the music presented here, it’s a bit hard to judge the group based on just two songs. For that reason, this isn’t a perfect release. That said, this certainly presents a lot of encouragement that this outfit will put out more strong material. They’ve got such a sense of groove and yet such a skill at twisting and turning the music well beyond the realms of anything that could be considered simple or basic. In addition, they make it seem effortless. It’s almost as if this is the only kind of music they could create. It’s that organic. It’s also that satisfying and entertaining. Expect great things from Sound Behavior Troupe because they are likely to deliver on that expectation.
Rating: 4 and a half stars (out of 5)