Mark Feldman's Level 5 — The Sybil EP
(Mutant Cat no#, 2019, CDEP)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2019-02-24
This short but anazingly effective helping of crisp, snappy, aggressive instrumental funk clocks in just shy of twenty minutes, and is in fact the debut offering by Level 5, the four-piece led by NYC session drummer Mark Feldman, with an amazing collection of musicians, including guitarist Oz Noy, who wrote all three of the three pieces here, bassist Will Lee, and keyboardist Adam Klipple. Just to confuse matters, the live version of Level 5 features Feldman and an entirely different crew, and have been gigging fairly regularly around NYC and Long Island since the end of 2016, The Bitter End being one of their favorite haunts. The opener “Sybil” hits a smooth stride alternating between a jazz-infected groove and outbursts of heavy rock, with Noy and Klipple trading moments in the spot, while Feldman and Lee hold down the infectious groove. The approprately titled “Swagger” carries the torch forward with a catchy but constantly morphing groove, again with frequent sidetracks to keep it all interesting; Feldman states that Jeff Beck’s early 70s Wired and Blow By Blow rock-fusion period was a big influence on where he wanted to go with the band, and it certainly is in evidence here. The closer “Jabber Jaw,” which arrives all too soon, is sort of like a conversation between the players, all jumping around through flaming hoops, pushing an effective funky edge that the entire band can navigate within. Noy turns in some brilliant guitar solos throughout, and Klipple fillowing right behind on electric piano and organ. The energy never stops for even a moment. Yes, I could certainly survive a full length release of this; bring it on!
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more