Sometimes you just have to dip into the past to make sense of the present and such is the case with alt. Nahville’s psychedelic tinged improvisational jam trio Simo. Their intense improvisational spirit draws from a wide variety of classic rock, blues and psychedelic influences, which in contemporary parlance means they are a jam band.
There’s undoubtedly elements of the second Brit invasion era, as they reference the likes of Cream, Ten Years After and Fleetwood Mac, and more particularly Peter Green, while in terms of their American influences they most obviously owe a debt to The Allman Brothers and The Dead, with nods in the direction of power-blues combos like Mountain and Vanilla Fudge.
Blues wise, there’s the intensity of Mike Bloomfield and in contemporary terms you can hear fleeting influences of Widepread Panic, Umphrey McGhee and Phish, though their own style is ultimately defined by the here and now.
They leap into the void without a safety net, safe in the knowledge that wherever their spontaneity takes them, they have the chops and collective will to overcome those rare moments when they take a wrong turn.
Tonight’s St.Moritz show illustrates the point of each performance standing on its own merits, with each new solo or tempo change effectively being a gateway to new possibilities.
Simo are here to promote their forthcoming debut album for Provogue called ‘Let Love Show The Way’. It’s an album on which they fuse rock, blues, soul, psychedelia and tonight’s show demonstrates that they love nothing better than jamming on a riff, which they do frequently. But they always do so an integral unit, in which each band member throws down the gauntlet to fellow members to share the enjoyment of the moment.
This approach leads to some incredible interplay and outright spontaneity as they tread a thin line between inspiration and self indulgence. This is no more so than deep into the set on an Allman Brothers sounding excursion, on which they hit the heights but also stretch the piece to tedium with an extended drum solo drum solo and several spiralling guitar lines. However, they rise again in unison to work towards a coherent resolution and a warm reception from a crowd crammed into the tiny Wardour Street cellar.
Simo is a band that has already started making a splash. Who but they could start an early 70′s sounding jam, led by bass player Elad Bishop with TYA’s Leo Lyons sounding bass riffs and then move on again to the kind of sultry early Floyd style bass line.
Drummer Adam Abrashoff often teeters on the brink of being free-form, but always pushes the groove, and shapes the jams subtly, allowing Elad to intertwine his ripping bass lines with JD’s expansive guitar shapes.
And what guitar lines they are! JD doesn’t go into for the understated, his solos are full of ripping intensity and a wide array of tones, backed by a soulful voice. These primal elements lead him to doubling up and contorting his body to reach for every last drop of inspiration and tone from his solos.
Simo also don’t go in for announcing song titles, but they play What’s On Your Mind’ and the fierce ‘Two Timing Woman’ , both of which are highlights, while their take of Cocker’s version of ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ nails their Brit rock connection.
The power trio’s jam sensibilities mirrors the dawn of rock, a time when progressive music really was all about imagination and taking a chance. They embody the true spirit of rock & roll before it became corporate and swamped by labels, and if that means taking things to the very edge, let’s join with them to stare over the precipice.
Review by Pete Feenstra
Photos by John Bull Rockrpix
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