Exposé Online banner

Neil Sadler — Theory of Forms
(Bleeding Arts BA 10012, 1999, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 1999-11-01

Theory of Forms Cover art

Theory of Forms is a high-energy blast of horn-powered energy almost from start to finish. Sadler is an accomplished composer, keyboardist, and percussionist, and he’s recruited a crew of Zappa alumni to realize his tightly arranged musical vision. Most prominent is guitarist Mike Keneally, whose inventive playing shines on every track. Other than the obvious link in personnel, though, the Zappa connection is irrelevant. This is electric jazz that simply kicks butt in complicated ways. In the midst of the tricky rhythmic arrangements, there’s a lot of improvisation. The opening cut, “Jazz Bastards”, features a great solo from trombonist Bruce Fowler and some wild Keneally guitar work. The second track starts with some eerie string synth, and works into a disjointed improv session with both muted and straight trumpet from Walt Fowler over a stuttery groove. These first two cuts illustrate the opposing poles of the album: insanely complex horn and guitar arrangements on the one hand, flowing improvisations on the other.

This recording packs the energy of early electric jazz classics by Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and the rest, but manages a style all its own. Sadler’s compositions are complex without being freakish, and he uses advanced techniques like bitonality and rhythmic cycles fluently. Casual listening may illicit a response like, “That sounds interesting – I wonder what’s going on.” Further study (or checking the web site) reveals some of the technicalities for those interested.

[Note: As of when the review was published, the composer's technical notes were available on the link below, which may or may not still be valid. - ed.]


Filed under: New releases, Issue 18, 1999 releases

Related artist(s): Mike Keneally, Neil Sadler

More info
http://www.apc.net/sadler/

Latest news

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ain Soph - Hat and Field – Ain Soph are a post-Canterbury Japanese quartet who have certainly paid their dues, and whose Hat and Field album marks their return to the progressive/jazz scene from a six year hiatus since their...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues