Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius — Guilty of Innocence
(MRR 22140, 2017, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2017-09-10
Power violinist Joe Deninzon has been leading his band Stratospheerius since the turn of the century and has a solid catalog of releases to show for it. Having recorded as a sideman with just about everybody and their brother, Stratospheerius is Deninzon’s outlet for composition (he wrote all of the ten tracks save two) and song — in addition to his 7-string electric violin, he also sings lead, plays mandolin and some acoustic guitar as well, presenting a sort of hard fusion / progressive rock, mostly condensed into succinct three-to-four minute songs with a lot of instrumental flash and aggressive expression, built on a heavy verse / chorus / solo structure, rife with strong melodies and catchy riffs throughout, sometimes edging toward metal but never quite getting there, which for my tastes is better. The band this time remains the same as it was on The Next World around six years ago, featuring drummer Lucianna Padmore, bassist Jamie Bishop, and French guitarist Aurelien Budynek. In addition some guest appearances include percussionist Benny Koonyevsky on four cuts, Rave Tesar (of Renaissance) plays keyboards on two tracks, soprano Melanie Mitrano sings on two cuts, and the near-thirteen minute closing track “Soul Food” (and perhaps the proggiest piece on the album) features an impressive list of guests, including guitarists Alex Skolnick (Testament) and Randy McStine (The Fringe), plus a four-piece string section. There are many smokin’ moments throughout when a listener may hear some common ground with bands like UK, Dixie Dregs, Mahavishnu, Zappa, and others, but overall Stratospheerius is a powerful unit that has created its own musical world over five previous releases, and Guilty of Innocence continues that mission.
Related artist(s): Stratospheerius (Joe Deninzon)
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more