Self release [06.11.13]
From the opening sustained and hypnotic note of ‘This Is Why’ to the extended violin work out on the closing title track, ‘Prayrie Go Round’ is an adventurous musical journey that meanders its way through multi genres and comes up with deep tonal colours and a proggy undertow.
Probably best described as jazz-rock fusion album, ‘Prayrie Go Round’ is much more than that. It’s a big leap of faith in which Hoyt innate sense of the exploratory is matched by the band’s inspired interplay on 10 tracks that come with their author’s brief notes.
The opening ‘This Is Why is anchored like the album as a whole, by the muscular Robben Ford/Larry Carlton drummer Toss Panos, but the track aims for the stars with intertwined guitars and violin. Imagine Zappa style dense guitar lines and Jean Luc Ponty style violin overlain with mysterious eastern chants. It builds impressively on the back of a spacy guitar solo as the busy percussion moves to the front of the mix.
If that sounds very retro, there’s no escaping the fact the fact that the project is shot through with fusion sensibilities, but equally there’s plenty of fresh ideas and a wide variety of musical pulses that make this much more than just another west coast fusion album.
‘Hip To Believin’ is the most accessible track on the album and certainly the most radio friendly. It’s based round a strong guitar led melody that leads the band into a staccato piece which imperceptibly comes full circle back to the catchy guitar motif. It levers you into to Hoyt’s fractured melodies and jammed out fusion style, before Trevor Lloyd violin gives it an uplifting feel.
The electric violin led ‘I Found You’ has more of meditative feel as the jangling guitars and pounding drums establish a brusque rhythm pattern over which guitar and violin gently explore drone like tonal pulses, before Lloyd’s featured solo, while the guitar led ‘Missing Donnie’ is a more straight forward piece with strong theme, muscular playing – including what sounds like a dropped in bass solo by Paulo Gustavo – and some delicately teased notes from Hoyt, leading into some frenetic playing.
The funky ‘Trip Over’ is another highlight and could be Jeff Beck with a mix of double lines, busy note clusters, big toned heavy riffs and an ethereal violin line that breaks the tension, before some more heavy riffing.
It’s an example of the band’s clear sense of purpose, backed by intricate interplay and a willingness to improvise that makes this album more than just another fusion album.
There are fleeting proggy elements, bluesy edges, plenty of rock bluster, shifting dynamics and an ever present willingness to take a chance. The result is demanding, but rewarding music in which the solos sparkle over a pulsating rhythm section that continually pushes the front line players on to greater heights.
And if is hard to know where an album like fits outside of the already over subscribed So-Cal fusion scene, you just hope that that the mix of prog, jazz rock and ultimately guitar driven music will draw people to genuine exploratory album.
The intro to ‘Numb Goodbye’ for example, evokes Zappa, circa ‘Shut Up & Play Your Guitar’ with added hints of psychedelia before going in search of the kind of melody that makes ‘Leap of Faith’ so exhilarating, with its sudden shift to acoustic guitar and violin.
Hoyt’s restless exploration never settles for the mundane and ‘Prayrie Go Round’ is a fine debut album by and musician constantly in search of musical inspiration. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
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