Sphere3 - Comeuppance - 2002

"Some fine progressive jazz fusion from England"


Sphere3 is a band from London, England. They play instrumental music in the vein of bands like Bruford, Brand X, Alan Holdsworth and the Simon Phillips Band. Their music we could label as "progressive jazz fusion". Maybe a strange release on the Cyclops label but the English label has simply recognised the quality, which the band has. And I believe that a lot of progressive fans can also enjoy this release.


The Band:
Steve Anderson – Guitars; William Burnett – Bass; Neil Durant – Keyboards; Jamie Fisher – Drums.


We find 10 tracks on this album with a total recording time of 53 minutes. The album opens with "A good example of arbitrary presumption" (6:20) not only a great title but also a nice up-tempo opener with some Holdsworth like guitar work in UK style. The piece has fine jazz-fusion moments with great keyboards and rhythm section. But you can also hear Neo-prog influences on the synths and a nice bombastic ending with Mellotron. The second track is called "Shrimp.sng" (4:08) and includes Hammond organ and melodic guitar and good drums. "Sidewalking" (4:39) shows great fretless bass work by William Burnett and this happy piece sometimes give me a Level42 DejaVu.

Next is "Natural light" (5:42) a piece where Steve Anderson shows his admiration for Allan Holdsworth. Neil Durant creates nice keyboard sounds with a lot of varieties. But this counts for the whole album. "First kiss" (5:44) opens with atmospheric keyboard sounds. Then a slow, delicate and melodic guitar solo follows. The tension of the music is slowly building up. After "the kiss" the tension slowly disappears. "Eat first, ask questions later" (3:16) is again more up-tempo. The overall sound of this short piece is aggressive but the middle section has tasteful jazzy piano and keyboard work. This is followed by "An unusual January" (5:47) in which the jazzy piano and the fretless bass let the piece swing. In this kind of pieces the band shows their more jazz-fusion side. But it all sounds joyful and fresh. One of the strong points of the band is that however there are sometimes complicated structures in the music, it still sounds simple.

"December gaze" (8:39) is the longest track. It is one of my favourite tracks of the album. The opening is like a beautiful melodic ballad to me. Slowly the music gets more tension and gets a fuller sound. In my introduction I mentioned bands like Bruford, Brand X and Allan Holdsworth. But while I was writing this review I thought I miss something here. And now I have found it! The atmosphere of the music sometimes reminds me of the Japanese band Kenso. "Tapestries" (2:41) is a beautiful and delicate piece with acoustic guitar ala Steve Howe. Together with the first track "A good example of arbitrary presumption" and the eight track "December gaze" the last track "Paralysis" (5:59) is the most impressive track of the album. It has an aggressive and bombastic opening and is full of great keyboard sounds. Delicious Mellotron and string sounds are combined with melodic guitar work.


For me this album is a pleasant surprise on the Cyclops label. The first demos of the band were more Neo-prog orientated but the band seems to have chosen a more Jazz-Fusion style on this first full album entitled "Comeuppance". As long as they mix this with some prog influences the band has a kind of unique style that will attract both lovers of Jazz-Fusion and Prog music. The musicians have good skills and the overall sound of this record is fresh and joyful. The best compliment I can give Sphere3 is that I can hear the joy and compassion in their music.

author - date - rating - label

Douwe Fledderus - January 200 -   - Cyclops