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Circus of Sound


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Album Review

Chris Poland's "voice" is instantly recognizable. His guitar tone is thick, warm, yet edgy. He's sort of a cross between Bill Frisell and Joe Satriani, with the tone obsession of the former and the accessibility of the latter. His instrumental trio Ohm: features fretless bassist Robert Pagliari, who played fusion with him before Poland joined Megadeth in the '80s. As for drummers, Circus of Sound employs three, all quite capable. The standout, however, is Kofi Baker, son of Ginger Baker. This is appropriate, since Cream is one of Ohm:'s major inspirations. Baker is ferociously funky, and the record picks up noticeably with his work at its end. Ohm: play fusion in the purest sense: jazzy, with complex chords and copious swing. But the music is also rock, with compact songs and hummable melodies. The catchiest tracks, "Photograph" and "Steps from Home," evoke Satriani, the godfather of guitar instrumental pop. Satriani, though, never gave his bassists such equal billing. Pagliari is delightful, muttering and sliding all over the place. The title track is a wonderful bass showcase, twisting to and fro with sinuous octaves. Poland's playing is fast and fluid, with his trademark wide intervallic leaps. In "The Shortest Straw," he slyly slips in Jimi Hendrix-isms at the end. Together with Pagliari, he engages in unisons, counterpoint, and all kinds of tasty conversation. Sometimes the discussions are spicy; other times they're poignant. Always, they're spry and insightful. A slight sameness settles in eventually, but it's probably due to a surfeit of riches.

Circus of Sound, Ohm:
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