Rob Luft – Riser
(Edition Records EDN 1095. CD Review by Peter Jones)
Guitarist Rob Luft’s self-penned, self-produced debut album has been out for a few weeks now. One can always dash off an instant review when necessary, but because Riser is a piece of work that reveals itself slowly, it seemed sensible to let the music percolate into one’s brain for a while before passing comment.
Riser is a young man’s album, fizzing with vitality and stuffed full of quirky and original musical ideas. Luft has employed his long-term collaborators bassist Tom McCredie and drummer Corrie Dick to provide the bedrock, while tenor saxophonist Joe Wright and Hammond organist Joe Webb supply thick layers of tonal colour to the arrangements, with their echoes of British prog – King Crimson and Yes. The tunes proceed in distinct segments, without individual solos in the traditional sense: everyone is playing pretty much the whole time.
The opening track, Night Songs, is typical of the set as a whole, a dense, intense, dazzling, melodic, rhythmically elusive tour de force that shows off the talents of Luft and his fellow musicians to maximum effect. The joyful title track follows, its acoustic guitar opening allowing some space for Joe Wright on tenor saxophone, while Joe Webb on Hammond organ builds up washes of sound, a change of tempo heralding his brief solo. The celebratory mood continues with Beware, starting with a gentle Caribbean vibe, continuing with a curious raspberry-blowing motif from Wright. Big horizons loom in the acoustic tune Slow Potion, while the Methenyesque Different Colours of Silence gives Wright another chance to blow with that heavy-duty tone of his, the track finally segueing into Dust Settles.
A personal favourite is the ethereal, out-of-time Blue, White and Dreaming, replete with psychedelic waves and ripples of piano and guitar, with a curious background mélange of hisses and scratches. There’s more Hendrixy mind-bending on the closer We Are All Slowly Leaving.
When I first heard Luft live, his playing reminded me powerfully of the late Allan Holdsworth, but in fact his great musical hero is Kurt Rosenwinkel – a name that will be unfamiliar to many, but whose influence pervades this unusual and richly rewarding album.
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