E Motive - E Motive - 1998
With a large delay from its release date, I have decided to present you a review of this excellent first album by the amazing group of New Jersey E Motive. They showcase their personality in a happy blend of musical styles: Progressive rock of the 70s (ELP, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Van der Graaf Generator, Yes) and 80s (Marillion, It Bites or Pendragon), jazz, Canterbury, fusion, classic, improvisation, everything in a modern production full of variation that sounds really original.
The group began its career in 1989 under the name Love And Death, led by the impressive keyboard player Frank McGlynn. In 1991 Erik Feder entered the group, a drum player with a marked syncopated style, based on rhythm changes and strange compasses. At the end of 1991 the guitarist Antonio Mattera was added, with a style influenced by improvisation and jazz. Finally, in 1993 the bass player (six strings) Pags incorporated to the band with an experimental percussive style. At the end of 1995, Love And Death decided to look for a singer. During that process, they decided to change the name to the one of E Motive, finding in 1997 Jay Tausig as their singer. At the end of that year, they recorded this album. After the release, the group has decided to begin a new instrumental stage without the participation of Jay.
This fabulous and innovative album includes thirteen topics in 70 minutes, among them seven songs, an instrumental piece, four improvisations, and an amazing version of the first movement of the symphony nº25 of Mozart.
The album begins with the less interesting song of the album, "Waking in dreams". After a brief ambient introduction, the song transforms into a commercial neoprog AOR style, in which the singer reminds me of Pendragon or Galahad, although with a very Canterbury rhythm base and keyboards, that saves the song from disaster. "Schitzorhythmia" is a wonderful instrumental piece of a clear Emerson influence, with the organ leading the composition (the work of McGlynn during the whole CD is stellar, he is a monster of the keys), embellished by good guitar fusion riffs and a beautiful intervention of Jay Tausig's flute.
"Love and Death" is a jewel of almost six minutes. The beginning is taken out directly from the first albums of Pink Floyd, moving into a soft interlude of classic piano that leads in turn to a beautiful central nucleus of 70s hard rock with an spectacular guitar and organ solo. To end up, the piano return, in a blues fragment, then the organ attacks back, devastating and brutal, and the singer is destroyed on the music that wraps us. Impressive. The fourth track, "Laughing Jones strokes his cougar" is a short improvisation, very similar to Pink Floyd's "Ummagumma" or the most weird King Crimson. It then becomes "For me", a progressive song with constant structure changes, vertiginous and powerful, full of energy and strength that reminds me from the Englishmen of the 70 Cressida, with a keyboard player that excels with the Hammond, while the vocalist in some moments seems Peter Hammill's secret son. Really, this song is worth the whole album.
The sixth piece, "Big daddy in the big house" is a good improvisation of about five minutes. They mix atmospheres that remind of the first Tangerine Dream (before "Phaedra") or Popol Vuh with undulant keyboards and syncopated percussion, coupled with guitar riffs a la Jimi Hendrix or Alvin Lee. Later on, "The ones two grieve" is a completely different song, with a structure of guitars and rhythm influenced by the hard progressive of the 70s (Atomic Rooster, Ten Years After, Johnny Winter) but with a neoprog keyboard base (Mark Kelly) that doesn't convince me at all. A lesser song, in my humble opinion.
"A gathering of days" is a soft moving song that mixes very convincing vocals with a base of keyboards and guitar that transports us to the "Court of the Crimson King" (that mellotron and flute sound), close to the edge. A delight. "When grandfather gets flatulent" follows, an improvisation in a clearly jazz-fusion style, with hints of Canterbury and Camel. "In the wink of an eye" begins with an instrumental fragment that creates a terror atmosphere of chaos, to be followed by hammond sounds and guitar riffs that open the way to a beautiful vocal fragment that becomes a crazy mix of choirs, keyboards, guitars and broken rhythms. The song ends with the hammond again dominating everything.
"Reality is mine" is another example of the versatility of these boys. We could speak of keyboards and vocals as Yes or ELP, a rhythm section influenced by jazz-fusion, and a guitar that moves from Canterbury to Hatfield & the North and 70s hard prog, but everything impregnated of their own personality. "We came for the jam" is the last improvised piece of the album, which fuses a jazz rhythm section with guitar and keyboards in a clear jazz-fusion evocation, and a very dramatic final spoken fragment. The album concludes with a great adaptation merging jazz, ethnic music and prog, of the first movement of the 25th symphony of Mozart that will soothe the hearts of all ELP fans.
In conclusion, an album of those I love, varied, amusing, innovative, different. Only some fragments in which so much mixture becomes excessive force me to take away one star from my recommendation. The next instrumental album of E Motive should be purely marvelous.