Upon listening to this 2007 release, it would seem unlikely that composer/guitarist and sound-sculpting wiz Steve MacLean performed with jazz trombone great Roswell Rudd. Then again, he wears many musical hats. He’s been involved in numerous multi-media projects, while also performing with the crème de la crème of the Northeast progressive-rock/jazz scene and is a professor at the Berklee College of Music. On this 2-CD gala, the artist and his band-mates work through variable rhythmic metrics, containing multilayered synth-type treatments and quirky theme-building exercises.
MacLean treats his compositions as if they are involved plots, where he takes you to dark alleys and forbidden forests. It’s sort of a prog-rock/electronic feast for the ears amid classic British Canterbury type melody lines and punchy bass-drums-organ motifs heard on "One Little Life." No doubt, MacLean conjures up a moveable feast for the ears and mind!
On "In and Around Susan," MacLean renders a spacey and trickling synth pattern that seemingly dissipates into vapor-space, also featuring an echo-chamber piano motif. Here, he sparks notions of a blissful dream-state. And with other pieces, the artist generates staggered rock pulses, occasionally shaded with elements of humor and wit. But his chameleon-like musicality shines during the composition titled "Maneuvers," which is engineered upon an electronics-based classical opus. Then on Disc-2, he ventures into ambient-electronic patterns and textural passages that would be conducive for film. Needless to say, this outing signifies one of my personal favorites for 2007, regardless of genre and stylization. Add to that, the crystalline recorded sound and you have a sparkling gem of an album that beckons repeated listens.