Album review: OSMOSIS (reissue)


Esoteric [Release date: 24.11.17]

If the ‘assimilation of ideas’ inherent in the meaning of the term osmosis is also a process of ‘almost unconscious gradualism’, it is not reflected in the 1970 debut (and only) release by this US Bostonian seven-piece (with two drummers, no less).

Rather than let the music drop into our ears and spread to the corners of the mind for us to happily could pick at its nuances, the RCA label and producer Dave Blume narrowcast the material into a recorded form better suited to a garage band.

Bookended by the proclamatory shout ‘Of War and Peace’ this cultish obscurity nonetheless offers up a surprisingly robust, well-formed repertoire of reed-heavy progressive jazz. Likened in the marketing blurb to the work of British groups such as Van Der Graaf Generator, Soft Machine or King Crimson, while there’s a whiff of VDGG, it’s stylistically akin to period US psych acts: think HP Lovecraft II and that ilk.

Led by Charlie Mariano, who played with jazz legends like Stan Kenton and Charles Mingus and later with Embryo, Osmosis opened for Frank Zappa and Miles Davis at ‘The Boston Tea Party’ venue. Teachers and students from Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts, they were no slouches musically-speaking.

There’s a good little booklet in this re-mastered reissue with an essay by Sid Smith featuring an exclusive interview with guitarist Andy Steinborn that spells out the whole story. It’s a real curio: the kind you play, and then find you want to play all over again, and right away. ***

Review by Peter Muir

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