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PAKT — No Steps Left to Trace
(Moonjune no#, 2024, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2024-03-30

No Steps Left to Trace Cover art

Percy Jones, Alex Skolnick, Kenny Grohowski, and Tim Motzer, collectively known as PAKT, list ten releases on their Bandcamp page as of this writing. Most of them are billed as “live albums,” but with this band, that’s somewhat misleading. All of their albums are recorded live — it’s just that some are recorded live in a studio, and some are recorded at venues with audiences. Every minute of all ten albums consists of improvised music, with No Steps Left to Trace bringing just shy of 138 minutes more into the total. That’s two CDs, one recorded in the studio and the other recorded at several locations: Tralf Music Hall in Buffalo, New York; NuBlu in New York City; and Solar Myth in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With this music being free of pre-arranged compositions, all we can do is soak it in as we listen and enjoy it (or not, as the case may be with some listeners) as it happens, never to find a catchy melody that will get stuck in the head or a section we’re likely to return to. This is not to say it’s all pointless fiddling around or wanky exhibitionism — given the skills and sensitivity of these four musicians, there’s a lot of interaction, and everyone contributes interesting moments, though it’s often difficult to tell which guitarist is doing what. Percy Jones is of course one of the monsters of fretless bass, and his playing is often what provides a sonic anchor for listeners, whether he’s laying down a slithery funk line or a flowing melodic passage. Grohowski is capable of playing busy, complicated rhythms that groove like a beast, but he also spends a lot of time providing atmospheric punctuation to the floating ambient loops and echoes that both Sklonick and Motzer provide. There’s a natural ebb and flow to these tracks, most of which run from nine to over twenty minutes in length. I’m inclined to say that if you’ve heard one PAKT album, you’ve heard them all, so the appeal of any given release will rest in the listener’s attention to the details which constantly pass by, never to return. If you’re a fan of any of the players and haven’t yet heard PAKT, No Steps Left to Trace is a great introduction, and if you enjoy it you’ll likely want to seek out more.

Filed under: New releases, 2024 releases

Related artist(s): Percy Jones, Tim Motzer, Kenny Grohowski, Alex Skolnick, PAKT

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