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Cymbalic Encounters — Cerulean Cathedral
(Bandcamp no#, 2022, CD / DL)

Cymbalic Encounters — Overexposure
(Bandcamp no#, 2022, DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2022-10-20

Cerulean Cathedral Cover artOverexposure Cover art

Mark Murdock recorded an album called Cymbalic Encounters in 2013 featuring John Goodsall and Percy Jones. Cymbalic Encounters subsequently became a band or project where Murdock would work with the pair playing music heavily influenced by Brand X. Goodsall and Jones were again on board for Exploration of the Southern Constellation (2015). The two albums at hand, both released in 2022, represent the end of the first phase of the project and the beginning of the second: Cerulean Cathedral is the last to feature Goodsall and Jones; Overexposure is the first without them. Aside from the Brand X-ers, Murdock has a flexible group of collaborators who show up on various tracks. Murdock’s drums, percussion, and keyboards are joined by Hiroyuki Namba (piano, synthesizers), Tim Pepper (vocals), Joe Berger (guitar), Jimmy Hisafumi Maeda (fretless bass), Preston Murdock (guitar), Katsumi Yoneda (guitar), Ken Hall (guitar), Daniel Kubota (guitar), Dave Juteau (guitar), Charles Lambiase (fretless bass), Rod Farlora (fretless bass), Fernando Perdomo (guitar), and Ed Clift (percussion). In some ways, the result of all of this sounds like outtakes from late 70s Brand X sessions. Even when Percy Jones isn’t present, slinky fretless bass is prominent in the arrangements, and all the tracks feature the same kind of loose, jazzy feel that Brand X excelled at. What is missing is the touch of eccentricity that really made Brand X so special, those strange, unexpected twists that kept things interesting. Still, the music is enjoyable to hear, and is a far sight from the kind of technical fusion that gave the genre a bad name. (I’ll also admit that the tracks featuring Jones on bass are worthwhile simply to hear his work.) I can take or leave the vocal tracks, but the instrumental work is all solid. I find the production thin enough that I’m occasionally frustrated by how wimpy everything sounds. This is a similar feeling I’ve had with Murdock’s previous releases. The music is good, but doesn’t come through with the kind of impact it should have.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Percy Jones, Fernando Perdomo, Mark Murdock / Cymbalic Encounters, John Goodsall

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