“Something About Rainbows” is the inventive guitar-led fusion trio’s follow-up to their highly promising eponymous 2016 Whirlwind debut recording. This time round there’s an increased feeling of togetherness and originality coming through, with guitarist David Preston, bassist Kevin Glasgow and drummer Laurie Lowe all contributing to the whole with stunning individual performances moulded around a clear sense of group unity.
The character of this trio is let loose on the seven original tunes. There’s a heady mix of intricate, thunderous energy with aesthetic, harmonic grace. And while LA-based photographer Josh Rose’s minimal ‘industrial rainbow’ cover art reflects the album’s sometimes darker, melancholic vibe, the trio also uncover fresher sunlit colours in their latest writing and experimentation.
“As we toured our first album, we were actively exploring new material and discovering a greater harmonic, rhythmic and dynamic range”, explains Preston. “So alongside the heavier, metal-rock feel – more full-on now than anything we’ve previously created – increasingly delicate and conceptually open expressions appeared, so consequently the new compositions feel more pristine yet a lot freer, each having its own feature.” And there’s certainly a captivating, iridescent quality to the trio’s output, one which flows with the skill and ease brought on by regular touring and writing together.
The album opens with the intriguingly enticing “Fumes”, with guitarist David Preston’s overlapping time signatures creating a multi-faceted chordal landscape, propelled by Kevin Glasgow’s agile bass and Laurie Lowe’s rapid-fire percussion. The jazz-funk fusion makes way for the differing pop/jazz pulses of “Beat 5”. Inspired by David Preston’s explorative input into a sequencer matrix, there’s a surprising cool jazz swing at its heart, with some top-notch soloing raising the temperature. “Something About Rainbows” is unabashedly heavy, with gritty, overdriven Geddy Lee-like bass octave pedal riffs underpinning outrageously breakneck guitar; more like listening to rock legends Rush in their prime than a 2019 jazz trio. The band’s emphasized sense of contrast is heard vividly on the wispy vignette “May”, where Preston’s crystalline guitar melodies float above delicate, high-register bass chords and feathery cymbals. Then the sprightly ‘Truex’ shimmers to cascading guitar phrases and rock-out solos against distorted, q-tron bass sounds and meticulous drum figures – a no-nonsense feel-good with the trio all on the same grid. There’s an innate freedom to “3D Weirdos” that really does float my boat. It’s tense yet beautiful, with a whimsical feel that’s looser than the rest of the album’s tunes, it’s warmth and exploratory nature making it one of my favourite tracks on the recording. The dark, expansive closer “HWH” reminds me a little of a pre-countrified, less esoteric, early ECM era Bill Frisell album. His “Lookout For Hope” recording was more of an expansive band thing than a lot of his music that has since followed, and I’m reminded of that vibe when I listen to this.
“Something About Rainbows” is one of those albums that’s pleasingly genre defying. Essentially it’s a jazz-rock fusion album, but one that truly highlights this trio’s originality.