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Art Griffin's Sound Chaser — The Seven Ages of Starlight
(Bandcamp no#, 2022, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2022-07-04

The Seven Ages of Starlight Cover art

“Sound Chaser” is one of the most intense and unusual tracks Yes ever recorded, with ideas borrowed from jazz fusion, rapid-fire unison licks, and numerous split-second changes in tempo. Sound Chaser is also the name of a band assembled by Toronto musician Art Griffin to play his music. The leader plays bass, guitars, and keyboards, and he’s joined by Steve Negus on drums, Kelly Kereliuk on guitar, and Victoria Yeh on violin. Their music is instrumental rock that varies along the spectrum between prog and fusion. The Seven Ages of Starlight starts with “Earthrise,” a short track built on electronics, and possibly some guitar deep in the mix — it’s hard to tell. The “Ride to Valhalla” kicks us into gear with an energetic tune a bit reminiscent of classic 70s Jean-Luc Ponty, with Yeh’s violin taking the main melodic lead and Kereliuk playing the part of Daryl Stuermer. Both of them are good soloists, and Yeh gets several of the album’s highlights. Griffin’s keyboard parts include both modern-sounding synths and some more old-school piano and organ tones as well. Negus provides propulsive drumming, with tight patterns and flashy fills. Griffin’s bass leans heavily on the slap-and-pop school of funk, with a trebly attack but little low end, which leads to my number one observation about the album: the playing is solid and the compositions are good, but the production is tinny and sounds like it’s coming out of a cheap transistor radio no matter what I play it on. The drums come off as wimpy even when the parts are muscular, and the bass is often a non-entity. Skillful remastering would probably take care of the issue. A few of the tracks lean a bit more towards smooth fuzak, but on the whole the writing is good — though I will admit a slight disappointment that nothing approaches the sheer manic weirdness of the namesake Yes track. I’d really love to hear this music presented with better production, and will definitely keep an eye on the band for the future.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Art Griffin / Sound Chaser

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