The Strato Ensemble — Drawn Straws
(no#, 2007, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2008-01-01Hovering somewhere between jazz-rock fusion and explorative electronic sounds, this group of improvisors is led by keyboardist Dean De Benedictis, who has already received great reviews in our pages as Surface 10 and with his ambient electronic based releases on the Spotted Peccary Label. On these nine expansive workouts, the Strato Ensemble involves anywhere from two to four musicians, track depending, including bassist Guiseppe Patane (Matta Haari), drummer "Jako" Giakomini (Socadia) and guitarist Takeshi Nishimoto (I'm Not A Gun), with occasional participation from saxophonist Jim Goetch. The opening sidelong salvo "Empowering Gamesake" covers everything from subtle ambient swells to high-intensity group pyrotechnics, going through numerous cycles along the way giving each player plenty of stretching room, but it also shows the spirited improvisational telepathics of the full ensemble. There is no doubt, by the time one reaches the 24 minute mark, that you've wrapped your ears around something very special. That one track alone is worth more than the price of admission, but the creative juices continue to flow freely for nearly another hour, sometimes in similar lengthy spellbinding sorties, other times in shorter vignettes involving subsets of the full group. Fans of 70s Crimson in improvisational mode, early Weather Report, and pure improv groups like Cloud Chamber would do well to check out Drawn Straws.
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more
Simon Steensland - The Simon Lonesome Combat Ensemble – Cutting-edge, unpretentious and imaginative are three adjectives that describe this offering by Swedish multi-instrumentalist and composer Simon Steensland. Mixing elements of rock, neo-classical,... (1994) » Read more